is the flu?
does flu spread?
long does it take to develop symptoms after being exposed?
are the symptoms of the flu?
severe is illness associated with the flu?
long can I expect the flu to last?
long can a sick person spread flu to others?
can I do to protect myself from getting sick from the flu?
or “Flu,” is a serious, contagious disease that
can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. Flu is caused
by three types of influenza viruses, Types A, B, or C. The
A and B viruses cause epidemics (widespread outbreaks in a
country) of injection in people every year in the United States.
Influenza A can cause moderate to severe illness in all age
groups, and infects humans and other animals. Subtypes of
type A that have been found in people worldwide include H1N1,
H1N2, and H3N2 viruses. Influenza B causes milder disease
and affects only humans, primarily children. Influenza C generally
causes mild respiratory illnesses and are not thought to cause
viruses are constantly changing, and in 2009-2010, a new and
very different flu virus called “2009 H1N1” spread
worldwide, causing the first pandemic in more than 40 years.
A global pandemic (worldwide outbreak) can happen if three
conditions are met:
A new subtype of type A virus is introduced into the human
2. The virus causes serious illness in humans
3. The virus can spread easily from person-to-person in a
2009 H1N1 met all three conditions and caused a worldwide
outbreak. In late spring 2009, the WHO declared that a H1N1
flu pandemic was underway. Over a year later, on August 10,
2010, WHO declared that the world was in a post-pandemic stage.
is unpredictable, but the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) expects the 2009 H1N1 virus to continue to
spread in upcoming flu seasons, along with other seasonal
How does flu spread?
experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets
made when people infected with influenza 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. A person
might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has
flu virus on it and touching their own eyes, mouth or nose.
does it take to develop symptoms after being exposed?
incubation period of influenza is usually two days but can
range from 1-4 days.
the symptoms of the flu?
for a cold and the flu can be very similar, but unlike other
viral respiratory illnesses whose symptoms appear gradually
over several days, symptoms of influenza generally appear
very suddenly and with great intensity. Early symptoms of
influenza may include:
onset of high fever, sometimes up to 105° *
Drenching sweats and shaking chills
Aching muscles and general body ache
usually by the second day, generally non-productive and
painful to the chest, throat, and head
General weakness, including lightheadedness and faintness
Runny or stuffy nose
Hyper-sensitivity of skin to touch
Brief diarrhea or vomiting may occur
influenza disease does not occur in every infected person.
Someone who has been previously exposed to similar virus strains
(through natural infection or through vaccination) is less
likely to develop serious clinical illness.
important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
is illness associated with flu?
flu season, different flu viruses spread and affect people
differently based on their body’s ability to fight infection.
Even health children and adults can get very sick from the
flu and spread it to friends, co-workers, and family. In the
United States, thousands of healthy adults and children have
to visit the doctor or are hospitalized from flu complication
flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at greater risk
for severe illness resulting in hospitalization or death.
This includes older adults, young children, people with certain
long-term conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease
and women who are pregnant.
can I expect the flu to last?
is a self-limiting virus, meaning that it lasts for a period
of time and then clears up. Early symptoms, including fever,
may last from 3 to 6 days. Weakness, light-headedness, and
cough may persist for 1 to 2 weeks longer. Cough is usually
the last symptom to disappear.
health complications may develop, such as sinusitis or pneumonia,
that may require medical attention. See your healthcare provider
if you experience any of the following:
Shortness of breath or wheezing
Severe head or neck pain
Fever >101° for more than 3 days
can a sick person spread flu to others?
infected with flu shed virus and may be able to infect others
from 1 day before getting sick to about 5-7 days after getting
sick. This can be longer in some people, especially children
and people with weakened immune systems. This 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.
I do to protect myself from getting sick from the flu?
recommends a three-step approach to fighting the flu:
Vaccination: A flu vaccine is the first and most important
step in protecting against flu viruses.
there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects
against the three viruses that research indicates will be
Protection develops about 2 weeks after the shot is received
and may last up to one year.
6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against
the flu each year.
Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important
to decrease their risk of severe flu illness. Vaccination
also is important for healthcare workers, and those who
live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading
flu to high risk people.
Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious
flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People
who care for or live with them should be vaccinated to protect
Take everyday actions to build your immune system and help
prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses.
your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Germs spread this way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading
flu to others.
adequate amounts of sleep to enable the immune
system to fight potential infections.
a healthy, balanced diet to ensure that you are
getting the vitamins and minerals your immune system needs
to function optimally.
Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke, as
that makes the lungs more susceptible to respiratory infections
Manage your stress levels. Built up over
time, stress hormones break down the immune system. Minimize
and release stress through coping strategies and relaxation
Move your body, as moderate levels of physical
activity release hormones that boost the immune system and
relieve excess stress.
Balance work with play, as making time
for activities and people you enjoy strengthens the immune
system by reducing stress and improving emotional health.
Use appropriate self-care remedies and take the flu antiviral
drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
you get the flu, antiviral drugs may be prescribed by a
healthcare provider. These drugs can make the illness milder
and shorten the time you are sick.
Antiviral drugs work best when started
in the first 2 days of symptoms to treat people who are
very sick (such as those who are hospitalized) or people
who are sick with flu symptoms and who are at increased
risk of severe flu illness.
Increase hour of rest and sleep.
Reducing activity demands upon your body allows for
more energy to be directed toward ridding the body of
Drink increased amounts of fluid.
Fluids, either hot or cold, help thin and loosen mucous,
making it easier for the body to get rid of it.
Try for at least 10-12 cups of water, juice, herbal
tea, soup or broth daily. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Take hot showers or use a humidifier.
Inhaling moist, warm air provides decongestant relief
and alleviates the pain of a raw, scratchy throat.
Be sure to clean the humidifier regularly to avoid buildup
of bacteria or fungi.
Gargle with warm salt water.
Gargling at least 4 times per day with a mixture of
1 teaspoon salt to 8oz. warm water helps to reduce pain,
swelling and irritation of the throat.
Suck on a piece of hard candy or throat lozenge.
This soothes the throat by keeping it moist.
Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke exposure.
Inhaling smoke will further irritate the respiratory
Take over-the-counter medication appropriately.
(Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil) reduce fever
and relieve muscle ache and headaches.
is discouraged for viral illnesses due to the
risk of Reye’s Syndrome.
loosen congestion in the respiratory tract.
reduce the frequency of coughing
containing pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) or phenylpropanolamine
relieve sinus congestion. Side effects may include insomnia
questions regarding prescription or over-the-counter medications,
consult a Campus Health Pharmacist at (520) 621-6516, or consult
a Campus Health Provider at (520) 621-9200.