The Italian Almanac


Italian News - October 16

More people will catch the flu this year than last and it should peak sometime between the end of December and the beginning of January, experts predicted here. According to virologist Fabrizio Pregliasco, this year's flu will be 'American', primarily based on the Wisconsin type A virus (H3N2) with strains of the New Caledonia A (H1N1) and Malaysia B viruses.

Pregliasco predicted that some six million Italians will be in bed with the flu, about 10% of the population, compared to 2.5 million last year, which was considered a mild year. Another five million Italians are expected to catch viruses which will produce conditions similar to the flu but with the main difference that any fever will be lower than for 'real' flu.

Pregliasco observed that the best way to treat flu was to rest and let it run it course. Because there is no medicine which can cure the virus, he added, medicines should only be used to treat the common flu and cold symptoms like fever, runny noses, stomach problems and aches.

These symptoms, Pregliasco explained, were in fact the reaction of the body's immune system to the flu virus. Antibiotics, the expert warned, should be avoided because they are effective against bacterial infections and not against viral infections. The only times when antibiotics should be used is when there are bacterial complications from flu, for example in the respiratory system.

While flu shots are helpful to avoid catching the flu, and are recommended for the elderly and children with respiratory problems, they do not offer 100% protection from the virus.