Assessing the health of a community: Influenza Outbreak
The influenza virus is the infectious illness that causes influenza. The symptoms can be undetectable, minor, or severe. Understanding the epidemiology and modes of disease transmission is essential for managing an outbreak. This essay explores these elements, as well as how they affect the community, how to report cases, and how to prevent the flu.
The influenza viruses are what produce the viral infection known as influenza. According to historical records, flu has been around for at least 1500 years. Hong Kong flu is one of the deadliest flu pandemics. The global death toll from this flu pandemic outbreak, which struck in 1968 and 1969, was between one and four million. The H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, according to the CDC (2019), was the cause of the pandemic. The first outbreak case, according to records, was discovered on July 13, 1968, in British Hong Kong. There is a lot of evidence to support the theory that the outbreak started in mainland China before moving to Hong Kong. The second week of August of that same year saw the first signs of the virus spreading outside of Hong Kong when numerous groups in Singapore reported experiencing influenza-like symptoms. Around the same period, the outbreak was evident in both Malaysia and the Philippines. The outbreak became visible in the Republic of Vietnam before the end of August.
Assessing the health of a community: Influenza Outbreak
The first cases were discovered in the United Kingdom in early August, according to the CDC (2019). Additional incidents occurred in UK schools in September 1968. In that month, the pandemic spread to Thailand, Europe, northern Australia, and India. Additionally, a flu outbreak among attendees of the Eighth International Congresses on Tropical Medicine and Malaria in Tehran started to circulate quickly throughout Iran. The pandemic struck Japan in October, particularly in school settings. The epidemic became apparent in the United States in December 1968. In the middle of December, the virus spread to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Records show that by 1969, the pandemic had spread to South America and Africa.
Influenza virus epidemiology and risk factors
The frequency of H3N2 clinical infections varied. According to Jester, Uyeki, and Jernigan (2020), the overall attack rate in the United States as determined by public health authorities was 43%. A study at Georgia State Prison looking at illness attack rates among inmates found a 40% attack rate. In contrast, only 10% of residents in a retirement community in California had symptoms. According to Jester et al. (2020), acquired immunity from prior pandemics is to blame for the older age group’s low infection incidence. These conclusions are supported by serological research that showed elderly persons 65 years of age and older had a significant prevalence of antibodies virus prior to the pandemic.
The 1968 Hong Kong flu pandemic index cases were equally distributed across school-age children and adults, in contrast to earlier influenza pandemics where the index cases were primarily in school children. Those between the ages of 10 and 14 had the greatest clinical attack rate, at 40%. (Jester et al., 2020). High death rates in persons 65 years of age and beyond were largely caused by disease complications and the worsening of underlying chronic conditions such congestive heart failure, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the United States, the pandemic killed about 100,000 people (Jester et al., 2020). Records also show that the 1968 flu pandemic claimed the lives of a significant number of people under the age of 65. (Jester et al., 2020).
Assessing the health of a community: Influenza Outbreak
Depending on the age and health of the exposed individuals, several risk factors for the 1968 flu pandemic were present. The CDC (2021) found that people over 65 with chronic illnesses and young children were more likely to experience consequences from influenza infection. Additionally, older persons were more likely to die and suffer from influenza virus infection if they had metabolic problems including diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. Researchers have found that compared to the first trimester, the second and third trimesters of pregnancy increased a person’s risk of influenza-related health problems. The most frequent side effects of influenza virus infection were bronchitis, otitis media, laryngotracheobronchitis, secondary bacterial pneumonia, and multiplying existing respiratory illnesses. Transverse myelitis, pericarditis, and primary pneumonia are additional risk factors. Importantly, due to insufficient pandemic preparedness, some geographical areas, such as West and Central Africa, were at higher risk for influenza death and morbidity.
Assessing the health of a community: Influenza Outbreak,Transmission path
Respiratory secretions from infected individuals with high viral loads can cause disease transmission because the influenza virus affects the upper respiratory tract and causes flu-like symptoms. Assessing the health of a community: Influenza Outbreak, Large droplets of respiratory secretions containing the influenza virus can be expelled when sneezing or coughing, which could aid in transmission if the discharge comes into touch with another individual (Moghadami, 2017). Large respiratory discharge droplets typically travel over short distances, like six feet or less, and settle on surfaces, increasing the potential of disease transmission. Furthermore, tiny secretory droplets with a high viral content can be aerosolized and used to spread the influenza virus. Adults without underlying medical issues shed the virus for 24 to 48 hours before it ceases after a week. However, older persons, people with weaker immune systems, and young children have longer shedding hours (Moghadami, 2017). Both direct and indirect contact, such as touching the mouth, nose, or eyes or directly coming into contact with respiratory secretions from an infected individual, can result in the transmission of influenza.
Influenza outbreak effects at the level of community systems
Influenza outbreaks cause calendar disruptions in schools, which has a negative impact on kids’ academic success. The influenza outbreaks caused a large-scale closing of schools, which disrupted learning in many parts of the world. Due to the direct and indirect impacts of the sickness during the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic, many pupils missed class. Due to influenza illness and recovery times, the afflicted youngsters were had to temporarily miss school (Meyers & Thomasson, 2021). In addition, some parents kept their kids at home out of fear of infection due to the concern of disease transmission. Children who live in geographically high-risk areas are frequently disproportionately affected to their classmates because they are more likely to contract infections and develop severe sickness. Long-term school closures increase the likelihood that students will drop out of school, especially those who are 14 years old and older when they enter the workforce in search of a job, ending their educational pursuits. Reduced educational achievement results in lower test scores, which hinders the student’s future success.
Influenza outbreaks have an impact on the local government by causing disputes between the government and the populace, having political repercussions, and escalating prejudice. According to recent studies, pandemics can exacerbate already-existing conflicts in a region, particularly when shaky leadership institutions and a looming danger of violence are present (Madhav et al., 2018). Curfews and other pandemic control measures exacerbate already-existing tensions within local governments because they are met with heightened resistance from the populace, which sparks political upheaval. Unrest and violence may result from these tensions. Additionally, because communities oppose intervention efforts and attack healthcare institutions, these circumstances put healthcare workers’ lives in jeopardy. Assessing the health of a community: Influenza Outbreak, Due to the increasing suspicions of government intentions, particularly from the opposition, which affected the populace, political tensions intensified during pandemics. As more people become ill with the influenza virus, the local authority’s ability to control the outbreak is compromised by rising death and morbidity rates attributable to pandemics. This results in leadership instability and higher absenteeism rates.
Businesses were also affected by the influenza epidemic outbreak, in addition to educational institutions and municipal governments. Madhav et al. (2018) claim that pandemics cause short-term, immediate financial shocks that have a long-term impact on economic growth. Governments spend a lot of money tracking infection cases, conducting quarantine procedures, and documenting disease outbreaks in the early stages. These efforts need a lot of people and financial resources. Additionally, because to the widespread illness outbreaks, states are being obliged to build new facilities in order to meet the increased demand for medical treatment and equipment as a result of the pandemic’s increasing infections. Spending growth lessens the burden on state budgetary reserves caused by taxes. As a result, the government makes spending reductions, which result in budget gaps and lower healthcare costs.
As a result of the increased need for medical interventions and the influx of patients during disease outbreaks, hospitals are under tremendous pressure. Mortality and morbidity rates grow as a result of resource depletion brought on by rising demand. Additionally, the influenza pandemic lowered access to medical care as other patients skipped scheduled appointments due to curfews, transmission-related anxiety, and an inability to travel as a result of decreased economic activity. Importantly, hospitals may become overcrowded due to the fear of infection as more “worried” and healthy people seek medical attention. The fatality rates increased as a result of reduced funding for other standard medical procedures like immunization due to the redistribution of cash to pay for the pandemic’s expenditures.
Comprehensive laboratory data are necessary to produce an accurate report that the health care system may use to respond to disease outbreaks. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification is required for every disease testing facility (CDC, 2022). Additionally, the testing locations must be fully furnished with the tools needed by the state to conduct pertinent tests and record both positive and negative outcomes for reporting. The reporting routine is started by submitting the acquired laboratory data to the state health departments, who will then send the data to the appropriate authorities or the CDC after deleting the individual’s personal identifiers from the data. The public health agencies must send de-identified data to the CDC every day via the HL7 platform.
The goal of the influenza virus prevention plans is to stop the spread of the illness. Vaccination is the cornerstone of influenza disease prevention. Annual disease vaccines minimize the likelihood of infection and the severity of the illness (Moghadami, 2017). Notably, the influenza virus is prone to mutation, making immunization necessary to boost the body’s defense mechanisms. Second, to avoid influenza infection, individuals who do not respond to vaccinations should use antiviral chemoprophylaxis medications such zanamivir and oseltamivir. Immuno-compromised individuals, people with chronic illnesses, and healthy individuals can all use these medications.
Additionally, establishing healthy behaviors like frequent hand washing lowers the likelihood of transmission. The spread of germs that cause influenza disease can be stopped by regularly washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, and covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing because influenza disease is a seasonal flu-like infection (CDC,2021). Assessing the health of a community: Influenza Outbreak. In order to lower the danger of transmission, people should stay away from sick people who are in close proximity to them. The danger of influenza transmission is decreased by staying at home or being quarantined while ill. Importantly, proper handwashing with water and soap prevents the virus from spreading. To get rid of germs from the hands, one can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizers instead of water and soap.
In conclusion, the three previous flu pandemics show that respiratory viruses are the most likely to cause outbreaks. The influenza outbreaks place a heavy cost on the healthcare system and have a severe effect on other community systems. Understanding the epidemiology, patterns of transmission, and risk factors of a disease makes it easier to manage it effectively, easing the load on hospitals, businesses, local governments, and educational systems. Additionally, because viruses spread quickly, governments and healthcare systems should work together to guarantee that there are enough resources available for crisis and pandemic management.
Francis, M. E., King, M. L., & Kelvin, A. A. (2019). Back to the future for influenza preimmunity—Looking back at influenza virus history to infer the outcome of future infections. Viruses, 11(2), 122.
Madhav, N., Oppenheim, B., Gallivan, M., Mulembakani, P., Rubin, E., & Wolfe, N. (2018). Pandemics: risks, impacts, and mitigation.
Mallory R. and Dillaha J. (2022). Outbreak Response/Epidemiology Influenza Weekly Report Arkansas 2021-2022. Arkansas Department of Health. Retrieved from https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/pdf/Weekly_Influenza_Report_Week_Ending_Saturday_May_14,_2022.pdf
Moghadami, M. (2017). A narrative review of influenza: a seasonal and pandemic disease. Iranian journal of medical sciences, 42(1), 2.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). 1968 pandemic (H3N2 virus). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1968-pandemic.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, 18th August). Pinkbook: Influenza. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 10th May, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/flu.html#:~:text=Influenza%20is%20an%20infectious%20viral,of%20influenza%20was%20in%201580
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, 26th August). Healthy habits to help protect against flu. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 11th May, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, 4th April). How to report COVID-19 Laboratory Data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 11th May, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/reporting-lab-data.html
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