From Person to Person -- Flu can be spread to others from infected people from up to about six feet away. It is believed that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets when infected person’s cough, sneeze or talk and are inhaled by unprotected persons. The viruses are highly contagious. Less often, a person can get flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it, and then touching their mouth or nose.
To eliminate the risk of infections, people should wash their hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub when not available. Any items that are shared, such as eating utensils and dishes, should be washed first.
Most healthy adults will be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop, and five to seven days after becoming sick. Symptoms may start one to four days after the virus enters the body. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. The signs and symptoms are: fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle ache, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children).
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.
Flu viruses can cause illness in people of any age group. Some groups are more likely to have complications from the seasonal flu. These include:
Complications from the flu can include: