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 persons 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 soap and water 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. Young Children, those who are severely ill, and
those who have severely weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for longer than 5-7 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:
Children aged <5 years, especially younger than 2 years old.
Adults age 65 and older
Women who are pregnant or postpartum (within 2 weeks after delivery)
People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
Persons with chronic lung disorders (including asthma, chronic pulmonary disease/COPD, cystic fibrosis), heart disease (congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease), kidney disorders, liver disorders, blood disorders
(including sickle cell disease), metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus), or neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions (including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy/seizure
disorders, stroke, intellectual disability/mental retardation, moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury)
People with weakened immune systems due to disease or medication (like HIV or AIDS, cancer, chronic steroids)
Native Americans and Alaskan Natives
People who are morbidly obese (BMI greater than 40)
Residents of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
Complications from the flu can include:
Ear or sinus infections
Worsening of chronic medical conditions
Vaccination is the best protection against contracting the flu. You are encouraged to talk to your doctor about getting the flu vaccine as soon as it is available! Vaccines are now available for the most common influenza viruses.
The flu vaccine is safe, and being vaccinated poses far less risk than being unvaccinated and remaining at risk of developing infection. Most importantly, being vaccinated protects our patients. Flu vaccine should not be given to children less
than 6 months of age and individuals with history of severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or any of its components. Individuals with allergy to eggs or prior severe complications from flu vaccine including Guillain-Barré Syndrome should
consult their doctor before accepting the vaccine.