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Influenza in the USA or coronavirus in the world: which is actually worse and more contagious

Quarantined cities in China and Italy, disinfection of streets and cars, total temperature measurement and cancellation of the Venice Festival ... The new Covid-19 coronavirus scares people around the world. More than three thousand people died from it, and more than 92 thousand fell ill, notes Air force.

Photo: Shutterstock

At the same time, about a billion people suffer from the flu every year in the world, and hundreds of thousands die.

What is scarier and more infectious - the flu or the Chinese coronavirus?

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause disease in humans and animals, from the common cold to severe respiratory infections.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the coronavirus and was previously unknown to science.

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are fever, weakness, and dry cough. Some patients may experience aching muscles and joints, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea.

What is flu?

Influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses that have been circulating around the world for thousands of years.

Symptoms of influenza: high fever that lasts five days; fever, headache; aching muscles and joints; general weakness, cough, runny nose.

Coronavirus: how much sick and dies?

The coronavirus began to spread from China, but as of March 3, it was found in more than 75 countries around the world.

More than 3000 people have died from coronavirus in the world, and more than 92 have become ill.

According to preliminary estimates of scientists, about 2% of patients die from this disease. Most of the victims of the coronavirus are now recorded in the Chinese province of Hubei, which has become the epicenter of the spread of the disease. There, the mortality rate is high - 2,9%.

How much does the flu kill?

On average, 0,16% of patients die from influenza in the United States. From October 1, 2019 to February 22, 2020, according to rough estimates of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States recorded from 32 to 45 million cases of influenza, during the same period in the United States died from 18 to 46 thousand people. Because influenza surveillance does not cover all cases, the CDC provides these ranges to demonstrate how prevalent the disease is. Estimates are based on weekly CDC influenza surveillance data and are preliminary.

In the 2018-2019 season, 35 people fell ill with the United States and 520 people died.

According to the WHO, influenza infects up to a billion people worldwide every year. For 3-5 million people, the disease is very difficult. Die from 250 to 650 000. People do not die from the flu itself, but from the complications that it causes - pneumonia, pulmonary heart disease. In different years, different strains of influenza circulate - more or less aggressive. The number of infected and the number of victims depends on this.

In the United States, the number of patients with coronavirus as of March 3, 2020 was 105 people, 4 people died, writes USA Today.

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How does coronavirus flow?

Some people who have caught coronavirus have no symptoms at all.

According to WHO, 80% of coronavirus-infected people recover without requiring special treatment.

More than 48 thousand people all over the world became ill with coronavirus and fully recovered.

One in six coronavirus-infected people can have serious complications, the most common being pneumonia. At risk are older people, medical workers, people who have chronic diseases.

People with high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes are more prone to coronavirus complications.

Among patients with coronavirus, very few children.

Who is flu?

Unlike coronavirus, children under five and people over 65 are the most vulnerable to influenza. Also at risk are people with chronic diseases (lung disease, asthma, diabetes, obesity) and pregnant women.

“These people need to be especially careful, careful and be sure to get vaccinated. If they do develop flu symptoms, they should definitely seek medical help, ”says Elena Lutskaya, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and pediatrician.

Flu symptoms occur suddenly and can last from a few days to several weeks.

Which is more contagious - flu or coronavirus?

Influenza is transmitted primarily through coughing, sneezing, or close contact. People with the flu can be contagious in the first 5-7 days of illness.

Coronavirus is also spread by coughing and sneezing of a sick person. Small particles during coughing can settle on surrounding objects. Other people can catch the virus by touching these objects and then touching their faces with dirty hands - eyes, nose, mouth.

That is why, according to WHO recommendations, it is very important to be at a distance of more than one meter from the patient with coronavirus, and also to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.

Although there is no complete data on coronavirus so far, its contagiousness (infectiousness) is lower than that of diseases such as flu and measles, explains Yuri Zhigarev, an infectious disease doctor and a candidate of medical sciences.

Coronavirus: why are we so scared?

“We are afraid of the coronavirus because we are afraid of something unknown. This is a new strain, still little studied, ”says doctor Elena Lutskaya.

If we understand what flu is and what to expect from it, then what to expect from coronavirus, we do not know yet. Because it is a virus that can change, mutate, says Yuri Zhigarev.

According to him, if you can predict with the flu how many people will get sick and how many will die in a year, then there are no such forecasts for the coronavirus.

The pace of its spread is either slowing down or accelerating.

“Why has WHO declared that coronavirus is a global threat? Because this virus has pandemic potential. What does it mean? This means that if the coronavirus mutates and can infect people even faster, then we can have a big epidemic, ”the infectious disease doctor said.

That is why, according to Zhigarev, from a scientific point of view, it is wrong to compare mortality from influenza and from coronavirus, because the situation with coronavirus "can change in any direction."

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Flu is also serious

Zhigarev calls for attentive, but without panic, treatment of both flu and coronavirus.

WHO considers influenza one of the most serious public health problems in the world.

The influenza virus is also constantly mutating: in fact, it is constantly “disguised”, trying to overcome the protective barriers of our immune system, warn in the WHO.

When a new virus appears that can easily infect a person and spread among people, and against which most people are not immune, this infection can develop into a pandemic.

“The threat of pandemic influenza is ongoing,” says WHO Director-General Tedros Adanom Ghebreyesus. - There is always a real risk of transmission of a new influenza virus from animals to humans, and possibly a pandemic. The question is not whether we will have another pandemic, but when it will happen. "

Such a pandemic occurred in 2009, when the flu virus A (H1N1), which was called swine, died, according to various estimates, from 100 to 400 people in more than 000 countries around the world.

This year this virus has returned. Although it has lost its pandemic properties, it is one of the most dangerous among viruses, they say at the Center for Public Health. It is this strain of flu this year that causes the greatest number of complications that can result in death.

“But there is good news - the flu epidemic should soon decline and the sunny weather will contribute to this. There won't be a big epidemic in March-April, ”Zhigarev says.

How to protect yourself from the flu?

Vaccination protects best against flu.

“Get your annual flu vaccine: even if you get the flu, your symptoms will be easier,” the World Health Organization urges.

Vaccination is especially important for children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

“It's never too late to get the flu vaccine. You can also get vaccinated during an epidemic. It won't get any worse. It will be either better, you will have time to develop immunity, or so, ”says the infectious disease specialist Elena Lutskaya.

Regularly washing your hands, not touching your face with dirty hands, avoiding contact with sick people, disinfecting surfaces, if there is a sick person next to you, often ventilating the room - these are the WHO recommendations to prevent infection with influenza.

How to protect yourself from coronavirus?

Do not panic.

Although the coronavirus vaccine has not yet been invented, as well as specific antiviral treatment, scientists are working on it.

In addition, most patients recover through treatment. Infected people are treated by alleviating their symptoms.

WHO published recommendations on how to reduce the risk of contracting a new virus: wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, do not touch your face, or eat poorly processed meat, milk, and eggs.

Refrain from traveling to areas where the virus is spreading, avoid contact with sick people, stay more than a meter away from anyone who sneezes or coughs. Observe “cough hygiene”.

If a person has been on a trip and has symptoms of the disease, it is imperative to consult a doctor.

“The good news is that many people are recovering from the coronavirus. Yes, we are afraid of the unknown, but to say that it is a plague is wrong, ”says doctor Elena Lutskaya.

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