Influenza or flu refers to illnesses caused by a number of different influenza viruses. Flu can cause a range of symptoms and effects, from mild to lethal.
Most healthy people recover from the flu without problems, but certain people are at high risk for serious complications.
Flu symptoms may include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue.
How Flu Spreads
Person to Person
People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are 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 or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. 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 or nose.
To avoid this, people should wash their hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. View the video....
The Flu Is Contagious
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. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that 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. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.
Types of influenza viruses
There are three types of influenza viruses: A, B and C. Human influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease almost every winter in the United States. The emergence of a new and very different influenza virus to infect people can cause an influenza pandemic. Influenza type C infections cause a mild respiratory illness and are not thought to cause epidemics.
Seasonal, Bird, Pig?
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It spreads between people and can cause mild to severe illness. In some cases, the flu can lead to death.
H3N2v is a variant of H3N2 influenza virus that infected less than 350 people in the United States in 2011 through 2013. When this virus occurs in pigs, it is called “swine influenza.” The virus does not usually infect people or spread among people. It is very different from human seasonal H3N2 viruses.
- 306 of the cases occurred from July-September 2012.
- Symptoms of H3N2v are similar to seasonal flu symptoms.
- There has been limited person-to-person transmission and one death.
- Although the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the pandemic was over in August 2010, H1N1 is still circulating.
- Getting the flu vaccine is your best protection against H1N1.
- You cannot get H1N1 from properly handled and cooked pork or pork products.
- Symptoms of H1N1 are similar to seasonal flu symptoms
H5N1 is a highly pathogenic avian (bird) flu virus that has caused serious outbreaks in domestic poultry in parts of Asia and the Middle East. Highly pathogenic refers to the virus’s ability to produce disease. Although H5N1 does not usually infect humans, nearly 600 cases of human cases of H5N1 have been reported from 15 countries since 2003.
People at High Risk of Developing Flu–Related Complications
Most people who get the flu will have mild illness, will not eed medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. The flu also can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may have worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu. See who is at greater risk here
Get your flu shot!
Visit your healthcare provider and ask for a flu shot
- Many pharmacies are offering flu shots - Talk to your pharmacist
Monterey County Health Department
Free or low cost - Walk-in Vaccine Services available
M-F 8:00 to 11:00 am and 1:00 to 3:00 pm
- Alisal Health Center, 559 East Alisal St, Salinas - 769-8870
- Seaside Family Health Center, 1150 Freemont Blvd, Seaside - 899-8100