WHAT IS INFLUENZA (FLU)?
- The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. Every year in the United States, on average:
- 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
- More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flue complications;
- 20,000 of those hospitalized are children younger than 5 years of age; and
- Approximately 36,000 people die from flu.
- Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease) are at high risk for serious flu complications.
HOW DOES THE FLU SPREAD?
- Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza.
- Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
- Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE FLU?
- Fever (usually high)
- Extreme tiredness
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches
- Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults
PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF FLU:
- Hand washing – you can prevent the spread of the flu by washing your hands before and after eating meals; after using the restroom; after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose; and after playing outside.
- Use warm, running water and soap. If you use liquid soap, use about one teaspoon.
- Be sure to rub your hands together vigorously for 20 seconds. Do not forget to rub between fingers and clean underneath fingernails.
- Rinse thoroughly and dry hands with paper towels or a hot-air dryer.
- Keep your children at home if they have a fever or are showing any of the above flu symptoms.
For more information about influenza and the effectiveness of the vaccine, please visit one of the following links: