The WHO estimates that around 3-5 million cases of influenza are reported every year. The majority of the cases are preventable and can be easily treated. However, around 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide are related to influenza. This puts a lot of burden on healthcare systems worldwide
Early diagnosis and treatment are key to reducing its spread and associated mortality
Objective: Determining the doctor’s perception of management of influenza
A total of 114 doctors participated in this particular survey, including 55% General practitioners, 21% Obstetrician and/or Gynaecologist, 8% Chest Specialist, and 16% paediatrician.
- When the doctors were asked about their preference to differentiate between COVID-19 and influenza, 59% preferred pathological testing
- Around 31% of doctors recommended avoiding close contact with a sick person to prevent influenza
- Over 33% of doctors opined that patients receiving immunosuppressants are more likely to develop clinical complications due to influenza
- Around 54% of doctors recommended only those patients at risk of developing influenza to get vaccinated
- Around 46% of doctors recommended analgesics & antipyretics medications to a patient infected with influenza
Our survey revealed a majority of doctors preferred to differentiate between COVID-19 and influenza only via pathological testing. This might be due to the overlap of symptoms. Interestingly, a majority of doctors recommended yearly vaccination for only those patients who are at risk of developing influenza. Influenza infections in vulnerable patients such as those with comorbidities and those on immunosuppressants could result in severe complications due to immune dysfunction.
As evident from our survey, preventive care should undoubtedly remain a priority in primary healthcare centres. Medication costs of antivirals might present a barrier to treatment. High-risk individuals must be made aware of the potential benefits of antivirals in terms of decreasing mortality and the reduction in the duration of disease. Typically utilizing an online platform or encouraging the use of telemedicine can help in tracking, proper follow-up, and better compliance of vaccinations of vulnerable patients especially during the flu season.
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