Influenza or the flu is a contagious disease which affects the respiratory organs. It gets transmitted via droplet into the upper respiratory tract and gives symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, and soreness, headaches, chills, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, fatigue, sore throat. There are 3 types of Influenza viruses which are A, B, and C. The A type is can be present among human, but also animals such as chicken, duck, pig, etc. B Influenza type is present only among humans, unlike the type A. Both type A and B are important since they can cause Influenza epidemic or pandemic. Type C will usually cause milder respiratory flu and is not that contagious as the type B and A. It can be present in animals such as dogs, pigs, and others. There is also Influenza type D, but it does not affect the human population.
Influenza Type B Virus
Influenza B is the second most common Influenza type which can cause flu and it is more likely to happen throughout the whole year, unlike the type A which is more seasonal. This type of virus can be dangerous for chronic patients, elderly and some people with respiratory problems since it can cause serious complications, which is why the Influenza vaccine is available every year for the group of people who is prone to disease. The vaccine prevents the flu from this type of virus and some similar ones. These viruses get mutated so we have multiple new subtypes of these viruses causing epidemics every now and then. The first Influenza in more than forty years was Influenza A H1N1 type in the spring of 2009.
Since the mutation is common with this virus, one strain of Influenza B is taken for vaccine development that is thought that it will attack the people the current year. B Influenza is not divided into subtypes but has specific strains.
Influenza B Transmission
As this virus is a respiratory virus, the main transmission happens through droplet between people. When you sneeze, cough, talk, the droplets are being released into the air which is invisible to the naked eye. If the person standing next to the one who is the transmitter is less than 1.5m apart, the inhalation can happen. Other types of transmission can be indirect via objects such as telephone, towel or desk where the virus can be present and then transferred to the face where it can enter the nose, eyes or mouth.
The main reason to the high contagious and epidemic virus is the constant change in its structure, where the person who gets ill from this virus can be ill again after exposure since it can be a different type of virus with a new strain. This is also the reason that vaccine is taken every year. As we mentioned above, the vaccine does not protect the person from all strains of B influenza but only the ones which are present in the vaccine.
Common B Influenza Symptoms
The symptoms of B Influenza virus can be body symptoms, in general, stomach and respiratory symptoms.
One of the first symptoms that can occur with people ill from Influenza B is a fever. It appears quickly after only 1-2 days of incubation period. The fever doesn’t last for long, but it can go high up to 106 degrees. There is a slight difference with fever appearance among children and adults, where the children usually have a higher fever. Other symptoms are headaches, muscle ache and soreness, and fatigue.
The most common symptoms are a runny nose, sore throat, and cough. These symptoms subside over time when the flu goes away or it can transition into a more serious condition such as bronchitis or pneumonia. These conditions can be serious if not treated since the vulnerable lungs can get superinfection which is bacterial infection over the virus one since the immune and respiratory system gets weaker. The treatment of these conditions can last up to a few weeks, where the flu symptoms usually subside after a week.
It is possible that respiratory virus causes stomach problems such as loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea. Although this can be common, it is usually diagnosed as the stomach flu.
Influenza B Complications
Bacterial pneumonia is one of the most common complications of Influenza B. If not treated, it can cause lung and airway damage. It is followed by high fever, cough, chest pain, and fatigue. A cough can be productive and the sputum can be yellowish or green if it’s bacterial. The bacteria can cloth the airway, cause and inflammation and fluid retention. It can be fatal among elderly and some respiratory patients.
Other complications are less common when compared to pneumonia. These conditions can be Rey’s syndrome, encephalitis, myositis, sinus or ear infections. Encephalitis causes brain inflammation if the bacteria gets into the brain circulation. It is accompanied by fever, headaches, confusion, seizures or coma. Myositis is the muscle inflammation which is followed by muscle pain and limited movement ability. It is more common among younger population and it does not last more than 5 days. Reye’s syndrome is a serious condition which is accompanied by brain and liver damage. It is more common among children and young people who took aspirin. If the Influenza B gets treated with aspirin, some people can develop this condition.
Influenza B Treatment
The most important thing is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, tea and lemonade. Warm soup can soothe you as well where it can unclog the stuffy nose and help the sputum excretion. It is also important to rest and lay down to let your body fight the flu. You can try taking some over-the-counter medicines such as Ibuprofen and acetaminophen but try to avoid aspirin which has a possibility of causing Reye’s syndrome.
The virus such as Influenza B doesn’t need any specific medication for treatment. It usually goes by on its own. In some cases, it is advised to prescribe medication for a risky group of people such as elderly or the persons prone to respiratory complications. Those drugs can be Zanamivir or Oseltamivir which are the drugs that will prevent complications. Oseltamivir is oral drug and Zanamivir is an inhaler. There are some adverse effects such as vomiting.
Prevention of The Influenza B Virus
As we mentioned above, the prevention can be done with a vaccine which is taken every year. It contains the specific Influenza B strain where the body creates specific antibodies.
If some person in your surrounding has a virus, try to avoid their presence or don’t stand too close in order to prevent droplet transmission. Wash your hands often and use antibacterial soaps. Rub your hands with sanitizers for longer than 15 seconds. When you sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with hands and avoid using same glasses for drinking, etc. If you are using public transport, put some scarf over your mouth and avoid rubbing too close to other people. If you are having the flu, try to rest and stay home in order to protect the other people from getting the flu and to prevent the epidemic. The crowds and public places are the most common places you can get infected so try to avoid them when it is the season of the flu.