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Facts About...

INFLUENZA


What is it?

  • Influenza (“the flu”) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that affects the nose, throat, and lungs.
  • It can lead to severe illness and complications which may result in hospitalization or death.
  • Most people who get the flu recover within 10 days.
  • Some people can become very ill and need medical attention at a doctor's office or hospital.
  • People with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, young children, and the elderly are at greater risk for flu complications.

Influenza is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Health Department.

How is it spread?

  • The flu spreads through coughing, sneezing and direct contact with hands, surfaces, or items that have been in contact with the flu virus.
  • A person can spread the flu virus before developing symptoms and up to about 5 days after symptoms develop. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be infectious for longer.

What do I look for?

  • People of any age can get the flu and symptoms of the flu can vary from person to person.
  • Common symptoms may include fever, headache, chills, cough, loss of appetite, muscle aches, fatigue, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and sore throat.
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can also be symptoms of the flu, especially in children.

How is it treated?

  • There are medications called antivirals, which can be used for early treatment of the flu. For more information, talk to your health care provider.
  • Antibiotics have no effect against the flu virus.
    (For more information, see Facts About... Caring for Someone with the Flu)

How can I protect myself?

  • Clean your hands often using soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
  • Keep common surfaces and items clean and disinfected.
  • Get your flu vaccine early each year. It’s the best way to prevent getting and spreading the flu.
    (see Facts About... Seasonal Influenza Vaccines)

October 3, 2017


For more information call
DURHAM REGION HEALTH DEPARTMENT
905-668-7711 OR 1-800-841-2729