Important Flu Information

Flu Terms Defined:

Seasonal (or common) flu is a respiratory illness that can be transmitted person to person. Most people have some immunity, and a vaccine is available.

Avian (or Bird) flu is caused by influenza viruses that occur naturally among wild birds. The H5N1 variant is deadly to domestic fowl and can be transmitted from birds to humans. There is no human immunity and no vaccine is available.

Pandemic flu is a virulent human flu that causes a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness. Because there is little natural immunity, the disease can spread easily from person to person. Currently, there is no pandemic flu.

Stay Healthy:
Make good hygiene a habit.
Wash hands frequently with soap and water
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
Put used tissues in the trash
Cough or sneeze in your upper sleeve if you have no tissue
Clean hands after coughing or sneezing.
Stay at home if you are sick.
Eat a balanced diet. Be sure to eat a variety of foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products. Also, include low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans. Drink lots of water and go easy on salt, sugar, alcohol, and saturated fat.
Exercise on a regular basis and get plenty of rest.

Be Aware of Common Flu Symptoms:
Influenza usually starts suddenly and may include the following symptoms:
Fever (usually high)
Tiredness (may be extreme)
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Body aches
Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults)
Having these symptoms does not always mean that you have the flu. Many different illnesses, including the common cold, can have similar symptoms.

Know the Risks from the Flu:
In some people, the flu can cause serious complications, including bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes; adults may develop sinus problems and ear infections.

Know How the Flu Spreads:
The flu usually spreads from person to person in respiratory droplets when people who are infected sneeze. People occasionally may become infected by touching something with influenza virus then touching their mouths, nose, or eyes.

Healthy adults may be able to infect others 1 day before getting symptoms and up to 5 days after becoming sick. Therefore, it is possible to give someone the flu before you know you are sick.

Protection against the Flu:

  • The “flu shot” --- an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle in the arm. It is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people with chronic medical conditions.
  • The nasal spray flu vaccine—a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses. It is approved for people 2 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.

What to do if you get sick:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink a lot of fluids
  • Avoid using alcohol and tobacco
  • Take medications such as acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol). Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms.
  • If you are concerned, have a chronic illness, 65 or older or pregnant—contact your provider.

The Flu Season:
Flu season typically begins is November and extends through March. January and February are often the peak months.

Cover your Cough! poster (.pdf)

Reference links:
Centers for Disease Control - Influenza

Center for Disease Control (CDC)  800-232-4636.