Acute respiratory infections (ARIs)
Acute respiratory infections (ARIs)
Last update: 2023-09-27
Transmission: Airborne or droplet-borne (usually)
- When infected people cough, sneeze, blow their nose or spit, they spread small particles or droplets through the air, which are then breathed in by other people
- Direct contact (for example, through kissing, sharing cups or eating utensils) with infected saliva or nose mucous
Most vulnerable to severe consequences
- Children under five years old
- People with weakened immune systems or other respiratory problems
Most vulnerable to contracting the disease
- Displaced populations and others who live in overcrowded environments
- Cough (may cough up mucous or phlegm)
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever (sometimes)
What can you do to prevent and control an epidemic?
Monitoring the community and identifying sick people
- Identifying people with suspected ARIs
- Identify and isolate sick people before they spread the disease to others
Treatment and management
- Referral of serious cases (example: high fever, difficulty breathing, rapid respirations) to health facilities
- Manage and improve nutritional situation, especially of children
- Encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and complementary breastfeeding until the age of two years, and especially when children are sick.
- Check the nutritional status of children under five (MUAC screening), refer cases of suspected malnutrition to health services and support nutritional programming
- Provide psychosocial support to the sick person and their family members
Safe shelters and spaces
- Reduce overcrowding and improve ventilation in living shelters, workplaces and schools if possible
Hand and respiratory hygiene
- Promote good hand hygiene (handwashing with soap)
- Promote respiratory hygiene and coughing etiquette (cover your cough or sneeze using your sleeve or a tissue, wash hands after coughing or sneezing, do not spit onto the ground or in public)
- Use personal protection (for example, face mask)
Social mobilization and health promotion
- Find out the specific advice being given by health and other relevant authorities
- Model following this advice and inform community members of current health practice advice
- Offer support and encouragement to follow the advice
- Try to gain understanding about if and why health practice advice is not being followed
- With the advice of your supervisor and health authorities, work with communities to overcome barriers to following health advice and recommended practices
- Promote social distancing
Mapping and community assessment
- Make a map of the community.
- Mark the following information on the map:
- How many people have fallen sick with acute respiratory infections? Where?
- How many people have died? Where? When?
- Who and where are the vulnerable people?
- Where are the local health facilities and services? (include traditional healers)
- Record the following information on the back of the map:
- When did people start to fall sick with acute respiratory infections?
- How many people live in the affected community? How many are children under five years?
- How common is it for people to live together in crowded spaces? Is there ventilation and fresh air in homes, schools and workplaces?
- Are children badly affected by acute respiratory infections? Are there other groups (specific ages, occupations, geographic areas, etc.) that are badly affected?
- What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about caring for and feeding sick people? Consider any differences in roles and responsibilities between women and men.
- When babies and infants are sick, do women continue to breastfeed them?
- Is a social mobilization or health promotion programme in place?
- Which sources do people use/trust the most for information?
- Are there rumours or misinformation about acute respiratory infections? What are the rumours?