TV actor Debina Bonnerjee has recently revealed that she has been diagnosed with influenza B and is staying away from her family. She announced this news on social media while expressing how difficult it is to be apart from her kids Lianna and Divisha. The actor shared her report on her Instagram story and wrote, "So got Influenza B virus, well hang on mamma! staying away from my babies now…motherhood is anything but easy..symptom:- fever and cough".

We spoke to Dr. Chetna Jain, an alumnus of the Royal College Of Obstetricians And Gynaecologists, director dept Obstetrics & gynaecology at Cloudnine group of hospitals, sector 14 Gurgaon, to understand what is the influenza B virus and how can it affect a pregnant woman and newborn babies.

What Is Influenza B?

Influenza is a common disease that shows flu-like symptoms in the body. They are four types:

  • Influenza A virus causes severe diseases H1N1 and H3N2 infection.
  • Influenza B virus is the most common flu found in people.
  • Influenza C virus is detected less frequently and usually causes mild infections, thus does not present public health importance.
  • Influenza D viruses primarily affect cattle.

Symptoms Of Influenza B Virus

Common symptoms of this flu are headache, sore throat, running nose, fever, muscle pain and occasionally loose motions.

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Important Tips For Pregnant Women

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All these viruses can affect pregnant women. As they have low immunity they tend to get it fast and the recovery rate is slow. It can adversely affect foetus growth.

If the woman is breastfeeding and she gets infected, the virus can directly pass to the baby because of the close contact. In that case, the mother should wear a mask, keep her face away, wash her hands properly and make sure her clothes are clean.

There is no point in segregating mother and baby thinking that this will prevent infection because the baby has already been exposed to infection. This infection can continue for up to five to eight days post-appearance of symptoms. Thus, there is no point in keeping the newborn and mother away, just need to follow the necessary hygiene practices.

Periods are not affected by this. There is also no effect of viruses on the reproductive system. Unlike Covid-19, which can stay in the body for a long time, mostly influenza virus disappears from the body soon after the infection is over.

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Warning By Dr. Randeep Guleria, Former AIIMS Chief

Talking about the fast growing Influenza virus H3N2, Dr. Guleria in a recent interview shared that people should be careful, especially the elderly and those who have underlying comorbid conditions like chronic respiratory diseases, heart problems, patients have kidney problems or dialysis. He said, "We had a pandemic many years ago of H1N1. That circulating strain of that virus is now H3N2 and therefore it is a normal influenza strain. But we are seeing more cases because as the virus mutates a little bit, the immunity that we had against the virus becomes a little less and therefore people who are susceptible tend to get infection more easily.

How To Prevent It?

Proper vaccination. These types of viruses evolve every year that's why every year new influenza vaccination comes. The best time to get vaccination is September and October. Vaccination will not 100% prevent disease but will decrease the chance by 62%.

Influenza A and B viruses can affect people of all ages. So anyone can get this virus. The mode of transmission is typically hard sneezing and contact (touch).

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