The flu is a very contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Unlike a cold, which is also a virus, the flu comes on suddenly and includes many symptoms that make you feel very ill, much more than if you have a cold.
It is spread when a person coughs or sneezes. It is also spread by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands, and after contact with items contaminated from an infected person.
People can be contagious one day before symptoms begin and up to five to seven days after symptoms begin. Children can have symptoms for longer than seven days.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
• Fever (greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) •Chills
• Headache and body aches •Extreme tiredness
• Dry cough •Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose •Diarrhea and vomiting
How can you prevent the flu?
1. Get vaccinated. Vaccination is the number one way to prevent getting the flu. Please contact your physician to discuss vaccination options.
2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get adequate sleep, exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
3. Avoid close contact with someone who has the flu and ask sick visitors to avoid coming to your home.
4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
5. Wash your hands. You and any other household members or visitors should wash their hands often with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds or a waterless hand gel..
6. Cover your nose and mouth. Use a tissue when you sneeze or cough and then discard it immediately. (Sneeze into your sleeve if a tissue is not handy.) An uncovered sneeze can spread germs a distance of three or more feet.
7. Avoid contact with others as much as possible while you have a fever or other flu symptoms.
8. Keep surfaces clean with a household disinfectant. The virus can live on surfaces where they land for two to eight hours.
What can you do if you think you have the flu?
1. Contact your doctor or your community health care professional (antiviral medications can reduce the severity of the virus if taken in the first 48 hours of symptoms).
2. Stay away from others until you no longer have a fever for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medications.
Need more information?
Be sure to visit CDC.gov to find more information about the flu.