Protect yourself and others this flu season
What is the flu?
The flu, or influenza, is a viral infection in the nose, throat and lungs. The flu virus spreads through infected people coughing and sneezing. This includes direct contact with bodily fluids or touching an object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people can pass the virus on to others one day before symptoms appear and up to five days after becoming sick. The flu can last several days and cause miserable symptoms. It’s important to get the flu vaccine each year to stay well and prevent the spread of the virus to others.
What symptoms does the flu cause?
Flu symptoms are generally worse than cold symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Body aches and headache
- Fever (equal to or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Sore throat
- Vomiting or diarrhea
People with severe flu or uncontrolled symptoms may require hospitalization. Reach out to your doctor with questions about symptoms and treatment.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
Everyone 6 months of age and older who does not have any complications should get the flu vaccine. People at high risk for complications if they catch the flu are strongly recommended to get the vaccine. This includes:
- Pregnant women
- People who have chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes
- People who live with or care for people at high risk of developing flu-related complications, such as infants or people with suppressed immune systems
In what other ways can I protect myself from the flu?
The first step should be to get the flu vaccine. Then, take everyday precautions like these at home, school and work to keep from getting sick or spreading the flu virus to others:
- Avoid close contact with people who have the flu
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth – common entry points for germs
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it
- Limit using colleagues’ work equipment, including phones and keyboards, to avoid catching the flu virus
- Stay home until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours to avoid spreading the virus
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand cleaners, especially after you cough or sneeze
Visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/flu for more information.