Influenza cases till October show decline; MoH issues advisory for prevention

October 11, 2017

Statistics by the Ministry of Health (MoH) show that there has been a decrease in the number of influenza cases registered so far this year as compared to last year. In 2017, Oman saw 952 influenza cases and eight deaths till October, while in 2016 there were 1,492 cases and nine deaths. In 2015 deaths due to flu stood at 25.

However, the MoH has issued a guideline warning people against seasonal flu which is active particulary between early September and May. Since, Oman is a semi-tropical country, seasonal flu viruses appear throughout the year. Seasonal flu is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza virus.

Usually, after two days of exposure to the virus, the flu-infected person may feel some or all the following symptoms: Fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body and muscle ache, tiredness, vomiting and even diarrhoea among some people, especially children.

The condition of some patients may worsen and can also lead to death. Flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and are inhaled into the lungs.

A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it. The infection can be transmitted to other people beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. The infection transmission may last for a long period among the children, as well as people with immune deficiency.

Treatment of influenza requires drinking lots of water, rest and taking antiviral medicines that can reduce serious complications and deaths, especially for the high-risk groups. Preventive measures include covering the mouth and nose when coughing and washing hands regularly. Seasonal vaccine is recommended for people at higher risk such as healthcare workers, pregnant women, elderly, patients with chronic medical conditions as well as pilgrims.