PUBLIC HEALTH FACT SHEET
What is Influenza?
Influenza, commonly called the “flu”, is an acute viral disease of the respiratory tract. Persons of any age can get influenza. Most people are ill with influenza for only a few days. However, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses can develop serious complications as a result of influenza, and require hospitalization.
How is it spread?
Influenza is spread from person to person by direct contact with respiratory droplets through coughing and sneezing. It may also be spread indirectly by articles contaminated with respiratory secretions. The flu virus enters the body through mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth.
How is it treated?
Stay at home, rest, and drink lots of fluids. Antiviral therapy may be prescribed by a physician when indicated. Children or teenagers with influenza should not receive salicylates (such as aspirin) because of the risk of developing Reye syndrome.
How is it prevented?
Influenza vaccine can prevent influenza. The vaccine is made from inactivated (killed) influenza viruses each flu season. Since viruses that cause influenza change often, the vaccine is updated each year. Protection develops 1 to 2 weeks after the injection and may last up to a year. The best time to get influenza vaccine is between September and December. A booster shot is needed each year.
SYMPTOMS OF INFLUENZA
- Sudden onset fever (100-103F or higher)
- Muscle aches
- extreme fatigue