Medical researchers develop and refine vaccines - growing the virus in hen eggs - to combat the disease. Research on influenza includes studies on molecular virology, how the virus produces disease (pathogenesis), host immune responses, viral genomics, and how the virus spreads (epidemiology). These studies help in developing influenza countermeasures; for example, a better understanding of the body's immune system response helps vaccine development, and a detailed picture of how influenza invades cells aids the development of antiviral drugs.
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Influenza, commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: a high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks. In children, there may be nausea and vomiting, but these are not common in adults. Nausea and vomiting occur more commonly in the unrelated infection gastroenteritis, which is sometimes inaccurately referred to as "stomach flu" or the "24-hour flu". Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure. Three types of influenza viruses affect people, called Type A, Type B, and Type C.Usually, the virus is spread through the air from coughs or sneezes. This is believed to occur mostly over relatively short distances.It can also be spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus and then touching the mouth or eyes. A person may be infectious to others both before and during the time they are showing symptoms. The infection may be confirmed by testing the throat, sputum, or nose for the virus. A number of rapid tests are available; however, people may still have the infection if the results are negative.A type of polymerase chain reaction that detects the virus's RNA is more accurate. Frequent hand washing reduces the risk of viral spread.Wearing a surgical mask is also useful. Yearly vaccinations against influenza are recommended by the World Health Organization for those at high risk.The vaccine is usually effective against three or four types of influenza. It is usually well tolerated.