Influenza


Influenza

Influenza (Also Called Flu)

    The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. CDC estimates that flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 ranged from 140,000 to 710,000, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000. During flu season, flu viruses circulate at higher levels in the U.S. population. ("Flu season" in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.)

      An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.

        Signs and Symptoms of Flu

        People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

        • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
        • Cough
        • Sore Throat
        • Runny or stuffy nose
        • Muscle or body aches
        • Headaches
        • Fatigue(very tired)
        • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

        *It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

          How Flu Spreads

          Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.

            When is Flu Contagious?

            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. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time. The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus to when symptoms begin is about 1 to 4 days, with an average of about 2 days.

              Complications of Flu

              Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

                People at High Risk from Flu

                Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

                  Preventing the Flu: Get Vaccinated!

                  The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.

                    About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.

                      About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.

                        It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other viral or bacterial causes of respiratory illnesses on the basis of symptoms alone. There are tests available to diagnose flu. For more information, see Diagnosing Flu.

                          When to Get Vaccinated

                          Flu vaccination should begin soon after vaccine becomes available, if possible by October. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even in January or later. While seasonal influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, during most seasons influenza activity peaks in January or later. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated so they are protected before influenza begins spreading in their community.

                            Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, and the timing of availability depends on when production is completed. Shipments typically begin in August and continue throughout October and November until all vaccine is distributed.

                              Who Should Get Vaccinated?

                              Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.

                                Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. This includes:

                                  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
                                  • Adults 65 years of age and older
                                  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
                                  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
                                  • Also, American Indians and Alaskan Natives seem to be at higher risk of flu complications

                                    More information is available at Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza.

                                      Who Should Not Be Vaccinated

                                      CDC recommends use of the flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine or IIV) and the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used during 2016-2017. Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people. Factors that can determine a person's suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person's age, health (current and past) and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. If you have questions about whether you should get a flu vaccine, consult your health-care provider.

                                        Good Health Habits for Preventing the Flu

                                        The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.

                                          If you have questions about whether you should get a flu vaccine, consult your health-care provider.

                                            Good Health Habits for Preventing the Flu

                                            The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There are also flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu.

                                              1.Try to avoid close contact with sick people
                                              2.If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you (or your child) stay home for   at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever           should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
                                              3.While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
                                              4.Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; throw the tissue in the trash after you     use it.
                                              5.Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand     rub.
                                              6.Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; germs spread this way.
                                              7.Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
                                              8.If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information         about how to increase distance between people and other measures.
                                              9.If you get the flu, take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

                                                The information on this page was gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) influenza webpages.

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                                                  Last Updated: 12/30/2016