Learn about the Flu in a general discussion from Michael Marcus, MD Pediatric Pulmonary at Maimonides Medical Center Fellowship, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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Male Speaker: What is flu? Michael Marcus: Flu is an infection caused by the influenza virus. It is an infection that makes to predominantly respiratory problems, running nose, cough, congestion and fever. Male Speaker: Normally the flu affects time of the year? Michael Marcus: Normally its starts in the winter time, occasionally it can start in the late -- and occasionally the flu can extend out into the spring time. But winter is the common season when influenza hits. Male Speaker: With showing letters H and N what do they mean? Influenza as a virus has different portions of the virus that help us identify the specific types of flu virus that's hitting a community in any given year. The H and the N represents the most important identifying portions of the virus particle. Male Speaker: Most genetic markers or --? Michael Marcus: They are genetic markers. The H and the N are carried in the genes of the influenza virus and they are important because they are portions of the virus that power immune system targets, when we fight the virus if we become infected. Male Speaker: Birds seem to -- a lot of flu viruses. Is that true? Michael Marcus: That's true. There are several natural animal hosts for flu. Birds are one and pigs are the other. Male Speaker: If there were another human beings around, we hope that never happens, the birds will still be a very good solution to keep the flu living from generation to generation, is that true? Michael Marcus: Flu virus will always live in the animal kingdom and the bird population will always harbor flu that could infect other species. Male Speaker: So in other words bird flu usually affects the bird usually a swine flu will usually affect a pig than a human flu affects a human and you should hit on cross over is that true? Michael Marcus: That's true to certain extent. However what happens with influenza is that, when flu is in an animal species such as bird, it will go through continuous mutations over time and eventually a mutation will occur which allows the flu to crossover and infect the human population. Male Speaker: In the great flu epidemic of 1918, it was also HIN1 flu, is that true? Michael Marcus: That is true. Male Speaker: And it's also for the very strange pattern it's started in the spring and I think it started in Kansas where they were training some troops to go over World Wide. Is that true? Michael Marcus: That is where that flu virus was first identified. It probably occurred in other areas, but in the population that if there were was identified in that year, it occurred because it was a large number of young people who were in the same place at the same time. So it allowed for the transmission of the virus to be much more aggressive. Male Speaker: Because we were sending troops over to Europe, you have just stopped there. We also sent over the virus with it. Is that true? Michael Marcus: Flu travels with people and so wherever people travel, the flu virus will travel with it. Male Speaker: Medical education and medical doctors at that time weren't as sophisticated as who work today. But there were many, many doctors, very advanced at that time that was starting to think that may be this type of illness you were seeing was a viral illness yet some thought it was a bacterial illness. Is that true? Michael Marcus: That is true. Over the years, it is taken a tremendous amount to work to understand the nature of the illness flu and back in 1918 we were the very beginnings of understanding the different types of microbes that were causing infection. Male Speaker: What -- bacteria that thought would cause ended up with word influenza, which we called an HN-influenza. I think Influenza will get that you talk, -- was a bacteria. He was wrong, but if he went into the lungs people were dying, you would probably find evidence that bacteria was there. Is that true? Male Speaker: This is true. The interesting thing is that what people experienced when they cached the f

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