Flu is a seasonal respiratory (lung) infection that causes fever and a cough or sore throat. It is most common during the fall and winter months. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the flu. Flu vaccine can be given in a shot or in a nasal spray. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.
Facts about Influenza (Flu)
Influenza is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. There are two main types of virus: influenza A and influenza B. Each type includes many different strains, which tend to change each year. Seasonal influenza sometimes causes severe illness or complications, but the great majority of people recover fully without any medical treatment.
Cover your cough and wash your hands!
To prevent the spread of flu and other infections:
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue nor the inside of your elbow – not your hand
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Or use an alcohol based sanitizer.
- Don’t get too close to people who are sick. Maintain a distance of 3 feet. If you get sick yourself, avoid close contact with other people.
Cover Your Cough Poster
CDC Health Advisory
Because of the detection of these drifted influenza A (H3N2) viruses, this CDC Health Advisory is being issued to re-emphasize the importance of the use of neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medications when indicated for treatment and prevention of influenza, as an adjunct to vaccination.
CDC is reminding clinicians of the benefits of influenza antiviral medications and urging continued influenza vaccination of unvaccinated patients this influenza season.
CDC Health Advisory
Frequently Asked Questions
When does influenza occur?
Influenza is most common during the fall and winter months. Influenza activity often increases during the late fall and early winter in the United States, but peak levels generally occur between late December and early March.
Who gets influenza?
Anyone can get influenza, but it is most serious in the elderly, in young children, in people with chronic underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or a weakened immune system and pregnant woman.
How is influenza spread?
Influenza is highly contagious and is easily transmitted through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person during coughing and sneezing.
What are the symptoms of influenza?
Typical symptoms include fever, chills, aches, cough and sore throat. Intestinal symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea, are possible but uncommon. Although most people are ill for only a few days, influenza sometimes leads to more serious illness, such as pneumonia. Influenza-related illness, including pneumonia, causes death in a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people in the United States each year.
Is influenza dangerous for children?
Yes. Each year, thousands of children are hospitalized due to complications from seasonal influenza. Some of those illnesses result in death. In 2013-2014, more than 100 children died from influenza in the US.
Why should I get vaccinated every year?
Flu viruses change constantly. Vaccines are updated every season to protect against the new viruses that are spreading in the community. Also, immunity from the flu vaccine only lasts for up to one year.
How well does the flu vaccine work?
Studies show that vaccination can help reduce the spread of influenza and the risk of complications, but how well the vaccine works varies from season to season, depending on the age of the person getting the vaccine and how well the vaccine “matches” the strains spreading in the community.
How soon after infection do symptoms appear?
Influenza generally occurs within 1 to 4 days after exposure.
What should I do if you I get flu-like symptoms?
Most people recover from flu on their own, without medical treatment. They do not need to go to the hospital, but they do need to take steps to avoid spreading the infection. If you have a fever (100 degrees or higher), plus a cough or sore throat, be sure to take these steps:
- Stay home from work or school. Do not return until you have been free of fever for 24 hours.
- Avoid close contact with other people. Stay away from crowded public places and avoid close face-to-face contact with household members.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands often.
When should I call a doctor?
Some people are more likely than others to get very sick with influenza. People who have flu-like symptoms or have had recent close contact with someone with flu-like symptoms should call a health care provider if they belong to any of these higher risk groups:
- Pregnant women
- People younger than 2 or 65 and older
- People with any of these medical conditions:
- Health Conditions that Increase the Risk of Severe Influenza
- Asthma or any other chronic respiratory diseases
- Heart, kidney or liver disease
- Hematologic diseases, such as sickle cell anemia
- Metabolic disorders, such as diabetes
- Weakened immune system, from illness or medication
- Neuromuscular disorders that interfere with breathing or the discharge of mucus
- Long-term aspirin therapy in people under 19
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