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研究医、ウイルス、ラボ
研究医、ウイルス、ラボ

インフルエンザウィルスの特徴と感染予防方法

ウイルス研究者

インフルエンザウィルスはその名前が示すとおり、一種のウィルスです。インフルエンザウイルスは基本的に3タイプありそれぞれ特徴があります。インフルエンザウィルスの感染力は非常に高く飛沫感染のケースが特に多いと言えます。また、インフルエンザウィルスの特徴から感染予防の方法も見えてきます。本稿ではインフルエンザウィルスの特徴や感染予防のポイントについてまとめています。

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そもそもインフルエンザウィルスとは

医師

インフルエンザという言葉は、冬になると非常に身近なキーワードとなりますが、そもそもインフルエンザウィルスとは一体何なのでしょうか。

インフルエンザウィルスとは、オルソミクソウィルスというタイプのウィルスの一種です。サイズは1ミリの1万分の1のサイズであり、中型のサイズのウィルスとなっています。

インフルエンザウィルスは大きく3つの種類に分けられます。つまり、インフルエンザウィルスA型・インフルエンザウィルスB型・インフルエンザウィルスC型の3つの種類です。この3タイプは構造(タンパク質の構造)も異なりますが、大きな差異として感染先が異なります

インフルエンザウィルスA型は、人間意外にも感染しますが(例えば、豚や馬など)インフルエンザウィルスのB型とC型は人にしか感染しません。また、インフルエンザウィルスのA型とB型は病原性が強いと言われます。このようにインフルエンザウィルスは3タイプあり感染先などが異なるという点が特徴です。

インフルエンザウィルスが感染するまで

このようなインフルエンザウィルスが人に感染するまでにはどのような経路をたどるのでしょうか。

まず、インフルエンザウィルスは空気中を漂いながら宿主を探します。そして、人の鼻やのど、気管支へと侵入をします。そのため、インフルエンザウィルスは、ウィルスが存在する場所であれば単に街を歩いているだけでも感染することがあるということになります。(空気感染)

しかし、もっとも感染が多いのは人から人への感染です。つまり、くしゃみや咳などによるインフルエンザウィルスの感染がもっとも多いということになります(飛沫感染)。また、インフルエンザウィルスは接触でも感染します。例えば、インフルエンザウィルスを保有している方が鼻をかんだ手でドアノブを触れて、そのドアノブを触れた人がインフルエンザウィルスに感染するということもありえます(接触感染)。

このようにインフルエンザウィルスは多様な経路を通して宿主である人間の体に侵入を試みているということができます。そしてインフルエンザウィルスは非常に高い感染力を持つのが特徴です。

インフルエンザウィルスの感染防止のために

このようにインフルエンザウィルスはさまざまな方法によって感染をしてくるということができます。インフルエンザが流行するのは冬がとても多いのですが、これはインフルエンザウィルスが乾燥した冷たい空気を非常に好むためです。寒くて「からり」とした冬の日はインフルエンザウィルスの絶好の活動日和ということになります。

しかし、インフルエンザウィルスに感染しないためにといって、冬場を一切外出をしないなどということはできません。そこでインフルエンザウィルスへの感染防止をすることが大切ということになります。

インフルエンザウィルスへの感染防止をするためには、外出時のマスクの着用と
帰宅時のうがい手洗いの徹底がとても効果的です
。ここまで述べてきましたように、インフルエンザウィルスは空気感染・飛沫感染・接触感染などの経路を通して感染してくることになります。

そこで、まずマスクをすることで空気感染と飛沫感染を圧倒的に防止することが可能となります。この際にマスクとして特に、ぬれマスクを着用されることがおすすめです。ぬれマスクはコンビニエンスストアなどで販売されていますが、インフルエンザウィルスは乾燥に強い反面、湿気には非常に弱いウィルスです。

マスクをすることで喉を湿らせておくことで、かりにインフルエンザウィルスが体内に侵入してもインフルエンザウィルスの増殖を大きく止めることが可能となります。

また、飛沫や接触によって喉や手などに付着したインフルエンザウィルスはうがいや手洗いで落とすことが可能です。このようにして子供の時から言われているマスクとうがい・手洗いという基本的なことがインフルエンザウィルスへの感染を予防するためには非常に効果的ということができます。

一生インフルエンザにかからない体質の作り方
村上 一裕
フォレスト出版
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まとめ:インフルエンザウィルスの特徴と感染防止のまとめ

以上、本文で述べましたインフルエンザウィルスの特徴や感染予防のポイントをまとめますと以下のようになります。

  • インフルエンザウィルスはインフルエンザウィルスA型からC型までの3種類があり、A型は人間以外にも感染するなどそれぞれに特徴があります。  
  • インフルエンザウィルスはさまざまな経路を通して宿主である人間に感染してきます。具体的には空気感染・飛沫感染・接触感染があります。この中でもっとも感染が多いのは飛沫感染です。
  • インフルエンザウィルスへの感染を予防するためには、マスクの着用とうがい手洗いを励行されることがとても大切です。特にマスクはぬれマスクが効果的であり、おすすめできます

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Check Also

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