Colds and flu

The flu virus

Learn more about the flu virus and how different types like swine flu and bird flu make us ill. Discover the subtle differences between a cold or flu infection and find out how these viruses are monitored throughout the year.

Does the flu vaccine cause Guillain-Barré syndrome or not?

Every year the topic comes up: the flu vaccine can cause Guillian-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare, paralysing condition. The result is that people opt to brave the flu season without the shot, putting themselves, conversely, at a higher risk of GBS and complications from flu.

Is it a cold or the flu?

Both are common in winter and caused by viruses. We often confuse the one with the other. But there is a huge difference between a cold and influenza: influenza may kill you.

Worldwide flu surveillance

The World Health Organisation (WHO) keeps constant surveillance of the human influenza strains circulating around the world.

Flu jab linked to rare sleep disorder

After the 2009 swine flu pandemic, researchers noticed a startling rise in cases of narcolepsy, a rare sleep disorder. Could one of the vaccines be to blame?

How flu viruses change

The genetic make-up of influenza viruses A and B can change in two ways: a slight change known as antigenic drift and dramatic changes known as antigenic shift.

load more

From our sponsor

Ask the Expert

Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules