UAE medical experts share how to avoid flu as cases rise

Residents are encouraged to receive vaccinations, specifically the flu shot, in a timely manner, while adhering to seminal hygiene practices

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Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 20 Dec 2023, 7:11 PM

Last updated: Wed 20 Dec 2023, 7:13 PM

With the influx of tourists and temperatures dropping in the UAE doctors are witnessing a rise in patient footfall, complaining of respiratory symptoms, flu-like illnesses, and even cases of influenza.

Medics therefore highlight the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to ensure safety, particularly when families are travelling abroad.

Residents are encouraged to receive vaccinations, specifically the flu shot, in a timely manner, while adhering to seminal hygiene practices.

Dr Mahir Khalil Ibrahim Jallo, Clinical Professor and Senior Consultant of Internal Medicine at Thumbay University Hospital said, “December marks the season of travel and festivities, with individuals undertaking various journeys such as the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, holiday visits for Christmas, and a notable influx of tourists in UAE too. Against these factors, there has indeed been a noticeable rise in patients seeking medical attention for flu-related complaints.”

Dr Mahir Khalil Ibrahim Jallo
Dr Mahir Khalil Ibrahim Jallo

Success rate of vaccines

Medics explain both adults and children are presenting symptoms such as high-grade fever reaching up to 40°C, headache, myalgia (muscle aches and pain), and nasal congestion.

“In response to this, crucial preventive measures like vaccinations are recommended. The influenza vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, and Haemophilus influenza vaccine are meant for individuals of all ages, including adults, the elderly, and children,” added Jallo.

Healthcare professionals highlight the success rate of the vaccines is about 40-60 percent.

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“Even if you get the disease after vaccination, it is usually very mild and needs paracetamol for a day or two. But in unvaccinated patients, the disease can be severe with high fever lasting for 7-8 days. Patients experience severe bodypain, nose block, cough, throat pain, loose stools, extreme lethargy and poor appetite,” said Dr Shyam Rajamohan, Specialist Internal Medicine with Prime Hospital.

Dr Shyam Rajamohan
Dr Shyam Rajamohan

Medicines and basic first aid kit during travel

Doctors emphasise that young children, the elderly, and individuals with chronic diseases are more vulnerable to severe complications from influenza.

Dr Sherin Hussain, Specialist Internal Medicine, Medeor Hospital, Abu Dhabi said, “Vaccination is a highly recommended preventive measure for individuals aged 3 and older, as it not only protects the individual but also contributes to community immunity, reducing the overall spread of the virus.”

Dr Sherin Hussain
Dr Sherin Hussain

They also explain viral infections like flu tend to circulate more frequently with the fluctuation in temperature or when people are exposed to a new or crowded environment as viruses spread easily.

“Pack essential medications and a basic first aid kit. Keep important documents, including medical records and prescriptions, easily accessible. Finally, don't forget to check travel advisories and health guidelines for your destination,” she added.

Influenza A and B may aggravate allergic symptoms

Dr Sai Srinivas Bhagavatula, Specialist Pediatrics and Neonatology, Aster Hospital Qusais points out parents should be advised to follow hygienic practices and advise their children to do the same.

Dr Sai Srinivas Bhagavatula
Dr Sai Srinivas Bhagavatula

“It’s crucial to avoid overcrowded areas and look for danger signs like “high fever, breathing difficulties and excessive tiredness.”

“Viral infections seem to have increased exponentially this season, notably we are seeing a rise in cases of Influenza A and B.”

He said these viral infections have a tendency to aggravate allergic symptoms in children with pre-existing conditions like asthma.

“Therefore, wear a mask especially in crowded or enclosed spaces like airports or public transportation, as this practice can help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses,” he added.

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