How is the flu transmitted and how can it be prevented?
The respiratory virus that is currently circulating in the United States is passed from person to person. Seasonal flu is spread by people infected with the virus who are coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by touching something with flu viruses on it, such as a tissue or a doorknob, and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. You can protect yourself from the flu by washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water. You also can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Stay away from people who are sick (especially if they have fever, cough and a sore throat). Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.
What can the public do to prepare for flu season?
The most important thing you can do for you and your family in preparing for flu season is to get the flu vaccine. This important step is now recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for everyone over six months of age.
Can the flu shot cause the flu?
The flu shot cannot cause the flu. Some people may experience a little soreness or swelling where they receive the shot, but it goes away in a day or two. Serious problems from the flu shot are rare. Sometimes a person who gets a flu vaccine can get the flu, but it will often be milder than without the vaccine.
What are the symptoms of the flu and what do I do if I have them?
The most common symptoms are sudden onset of fever (half having a temperature greater than 100.4), cough, sore throat, body aches, chills, headache and fatigue. Some people have experienced diarrhea and vomiting as well. Stay home if you get sick. In most cases people with the flu will get better without medical attention. Wait to be around people until your fever has been gone for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medications.
WARNING: Do not give aspirin or medications that contain aspirin to children 18 years and younger. If you are at risk for complications of influenza, call your healthcare provider.