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每日英語跟讀 Ep.1006: How does influenza differ from a common cold? 流感和感冒差在哪?

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English,國際時事跟讀Daily Shadowing

每日英語跟讀 Ep.1006: How does influenza differ from a common cold?

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is prevalent in fall and winter. People may wonder how one can tell the difference between influenza and a cold. Influenza is an acute respiratory tract disease caused by influenza viruses, whose main routes of infection are via airborne droplets and contact. The difference between the flu and what we generally call a cold is that ordinary colds can be caused by many kinds of virus, some of the common ones being rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and adenoviruses.


Influenza viruses are classified into types A to D, of which only types A and B can cause seasonal influenza outbreaks. Type A influenza includes the H1N1 and H3N2 subtypes, while type B includes two lineages called B/Victoria and B/Yamagata.


The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains that colds mainly cause respiratory tract symptoms such as sore throat, sneezing and runny nose, sometimes accompanied by a fever, whereas influenza symptoms are systemic, meaning that they affect the whole body. As well as experiencing more serious fever, fatigue and cough symptoms than one would with a cold, some flu patients also suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other commonly seen symptoms include muscular weakness, headaches etc. In severe cases, influenza may also cause serious complications such as encephalitis and myocarditis.


The CDC says that babies and children under school age are a high-risk group for influenza complications, and flu vaccines do not produce sufficient protection until two weeks after vaccination, so if you have children aged over six months old but below school age, they should be given a flu vaccine as soon as possible.


Fall and winter are the seasons when it is easiest to catch the flu. In Taiwan, influenza breakouts tend to steadily increase starting in November, reaching a peak in the next year around Lunar New Year and gradually reducing from March onward. The CDC reminds the public that if you experience three kinds of symptom, namely fever, aches (including headaches and distinct muscular aches) and fatigue, you must be aware that it could be the flu. Furthermore, influenza is highly contagious, and if people with the flu cough or sneeze in closed spaces while not wearing a mask, they can easily spread the virus to others.


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