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Definition of INFLUENZA
a (1): an acute typically severe respiratory disease caused by an orthomyxovirus (species Influenza A virus of the genus Influenzavirus A) and marked by sudden onset, fever, prostration, severe aches and pains, and progressive inflammation of the respiratory mucous membranes —called also influenza A(2): either of two usually milder or even subclinical respiratory diseases caused by two other orthomyxoviruses (species Influenza B virus of the genus Influenzavirus B and species Influenza C virus of the genus Influenzavirus C) —often used with the letter B or C to denote the causative species
b: any of various human respiratory infections of undetermined cause —not used technically
: any of numerous febrile usually virus diseases of domestic animals marked by respiratory symptoms, inflammation of mucous membranes, and often systemic involvement
Italian, literally, influence, from Medieval Latin influentia; from the belief that epidemics were due to the influence of the stars
First Known Use: 1743
Medical Definition of INFLUENZA
a: any of several acute highly contagious respiratory diseases caused by strains of three major orthomyxoviruses now considered to comprise three species assigned to three separate genera: (1):influenza a(2):influenza b(3):influenza cb: any human respiratory infection of undetermined cause—not used technically
: any of numerous febrile usually virus diseases of domestic animals (as shipping fever of horses) marked by respiratory symptoms, inflammation of mucous membranes, and often systemic involvement
Acute viral infection of the upper or lower respiratory tract. Influenza viruses A (the most common), B, and C produce similar symptoms, but infection with or vaccination against one does not give immunity against the others. Chills, fatigue, and muscle aches begin abruptly. The temperature soon reaches 38–40 °C (101–104 °F). Head, muscle, abdominal, and joint aches may be accompanied by sore throat. Recovery starts in three to four days, and respiratory symptoms become more prominent. Bed rest, high fluid intake, and aspirin or other antifever drugs are standard treatment. Influenza A tends to occur in wavelike annual pandemics. Mortality is usually low, but in rare outbreaks (seeinfluenza epidemic of 1918–19) it reaches immense proportions. Most deaths result from pneumonia or bronchitis.