Head Aches? Aching joints? hot and cold flushes? Sore through and a horse cough? You may be getting the flu!!! These symptoms are all to common but is it really the flu? The common cold tends to produce similar effects to those mentioned above although are usually much less severe. The symptoms of the common cold can be reduced effectively by simple over-the-counter remedies and the effects are usually short lived and easy to fight off. The flu however can be much more severe, and much harder to fight off. The symptoms can be reduced by common drugs such as paracetamol and ibuprophen (Aspirin should be avoided in cases of flu due to increased risk of contracting Reye syndrome) however they are usually longer lasting and more persistent.
The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which can cause acute respiratory infection. Next to the common cold influenza is the most common of all respiratory infections affecting over 40 million people each year in the USA alone. The scale of the problem is a manifestation of the complex nature of this virus which is able to quickly mutate and thus develop resistance against antiviral drugs. Hundreds of strains are known and new mutations are constantly been identified, one of which has attracted much media attention is the so called 'bird flu'.
So just what is this flu virus? Can it be treated? Just what is Bird flu?