Influenza-related muscle pain cases no cause for alarm
A rise of influenza B in the community may be to blame for a cluster of cases in Melbourne of flu-related myositis (muscle inflammation and pain), an expert says.
Calf muscle cramps are a well-recognised complication of the B strain of flu, said Professor Robert Booy, head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Sydney.
A school in the bayside suburb of Sandringham has reported 8 cases of children with the flu experiencing myositis, prompting a public advisory in a bid to allay parental concerns that their children were temporarily unable to walk.
“I’m not surprised … influenza B normally comes late in the winter,” Professor Booy said.
“Myositis … is transient, and you generally get good recovery within a week or 2 – the problem is that pain in the calves prevents walking, but, as best we know, you recover well.”
Latest National Communicable Diseases Surveillance data shows pandemic A (H1N1) influenza (swine flu) has accounted for most influenza transmission this year, with influenza B also circulating (Australian influenza report, 6-19 Aug 2011).
Professor Booy said he expected cases of influenza to tail off within the next few weeks, along with the arrival of warmer weather.
“Some people [with myositis] have an associated [infection-like] syndrome … but it almost always occurs on its own without any serious complication,” he said.
Last Reviewed: 05/09/2011
1. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Communicable diseases surveillance. Australian influenza report 2011 - current report: 6-19 August 2011. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-surveil-ozflu-flucurr.htm (accessed Sep 2011).
In 2020, all Australians should get a flu vaccine as early as possible, as the COVID-19 pandemic converges on our flu season.
Influenza - the flu
While a cold can make you feel under the weather, it’s not the same as the flu. Having influenza can make you feel miserable and tends to lay you flat for at least a few days, and often for a week or so.
Symptoms of pneumonia usually depend on the cause, but common symptoms include cough, chest pain, fever and breathlessness. Young people usually recover quickly, but many people feel tired for several weeks afterwards.
There are treatments to help you feel better when you have flu. Which ones are right for you will depend on your symptoms and whether you are at increased risk of severe disease and complications.
Vaccinations for older people
Older people should be vaccinated against influenza, pneumococcal disease and shingles - 3 common but potentially dangerous diseases. Tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough boosters are also recommended.