Flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalisation and even death.
How does flu spread?
Most experts believe that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets which are transmitted from people with flu when they cough, sneeze or talk closely. A person might get also flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own face, nose and rubbing their eyes. Each flu season a different flu viruses is identified which can affect people differently based on their ability to fight the infection. Even healthy children and adults can get sick from the flu and spread it to their friends, family or co-workers.
Signs and symptoms of flu
Flu-like symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhoea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
What can I do to protect myself from getting flu?
CDC recommends 3 step approach in fighting the flu:
Get vaccinated against the flu:
- The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses
- While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common
- Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses and prevent flu-related hospitalisations
- Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each year
- Vaccination for high risk people is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness
- Most people are able to recover from flu without medical care, however some people are at a higher risk of developing complications and do require vaccination. These include:
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic health conditions like asthma, morbid obesity, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
- Chronic pulmonary disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Metabolic disorders
- Endocrine disorders including diabetes
- People aged 65 years and older
- Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or take care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu
- Children younger than six months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead
Take everyday actions to help prevent the spread of the germs
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people
- If you become sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except if you get medical care or for other necessities. Limit contact with other as much as possible
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside aspect of your elbow to reduce the chance of droplet distribution. Throw the tissue in the trash bin after you use
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu
Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them
- If you become ill with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can help to treat your illness
- Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. These medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) are not available over-the-counter
- Antiviral drugs can help make the illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They can also prevent serious flu complications such as pneumonia