ISLAMABAD-National Institute of Health (NIH) has issued an advisory for the prevention of influenza virus as the upsurge of cases in different parts of the country is expected, Friday.

The statement issued said that enhanced influenza virus activity is expected in South Asia including Pakistan.

In the wake of an expected upsurge of influenza cases in the different parts of country, NIH has issued an advisory to sensitize the health-care authorities and facilities to strengthen and improve the level of preparedness in prevention, control and management of influenza.

All health professionals have been advised to remain vigilant to detect any suspected Influenza like Illness and Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) cases. Influenza (seasonal flu) is usually a self-limiting disease and everyone doesn’t need antiviral treatment and diagnostic tests.

It can spread from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing and can contaminate hands or other surfaces. Patients with chronic diseases (such as asthma, diabetes, cardiac and lungs diseases etc.) pregnant women, elderly people, children under 5 years are at a higher risk of developing severe or complicated disease and needs to be tested and treated with specific antiviral medications. According to the advisory, vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infection.

WHO recommends seasonal influenza vaccination for pregnant women (highest priority), children aged 6-59 months, elderly people, individuals with chronic medical conditions and health-care workers.

The advisory also emphasis on simple preventive measures like hand washing, use of mask, coughing etiquettes and annual vaccination can limit the spread.

It is highlighted that Field Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Division of NIH, regularly monitors the situation and has also issued Seasonal Awareness and Alert Letters (SAAL) for awareness of doctors regarding epidemic prone diseases including Influenza.

Separately, as the world observes International Awareness week for Atopic dermatitis (AD), commonly known as eczema, incidence has increased by 2 to 3 folds during the past decades in industrialized countries. Eczema is a chronic disease, characterized as an inflammatory, relapsing, non contagious and itchy skin disorder.

Dr Abdul Qudoos Butt, Consultant Dermatologist at Benazir Bhutto Hospital Rawalpindi said, “Eczema affects 15-20% of children and 1-3% adults worldwide.

The most common symptoms of Eczema are Itching, redness, scaling, oozing and crusting. He added that several environmental factors can trigger symptoms such as food allergens (most frequently cow’s milk, hen’s egg and peanuts); pets, house dust mites and pollen.

Talking about general management of eczema, he said, “Patients should identify and avoid aggravating factors.

The outbreaks and the severity can be lessened by avoiding excessive bathing and all types of contact with irritants including common soap, detergent, shampoo and cleansing agents. Patients must use specific products recommended by their doctor,” he added.

Moreover, proper use of moisturizers can improve the skin barrier function of eczema patient. Similarly, seeking timely guidance from a health care provider can also help to curb the symptoms. Besides this, using appropriate protective measures including gloves, barrier creams are also helpful in controlling eczema.