Many people refer to the “flu” as being either a cold or the “stomach flu”. Influenza is a contagious respiratory viral illness that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. Influenza outbreaks occur in the late fall and winter with varying degrees of severity. This flu season in the US has come early and with high prevalence. The symptoms of the flu are: chills with moderate to high fever, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, runny nose and fatigue. Usually these symptoms come on quickly.
The flu spreads by an infected person coughing or sneezing and these droplets landing on a commonly used surface, or on another person. The flu virus droplets can live on surfaces for 2-8 hours. When another person touches the surface and then their eyes, mouth, or nose they can become infected with the flu virus. If a sick person sneezes within 4-5 feet of another individual these droplets can spray onto this person potentially spreading the flu to this person.
Period of contagiousness:
Twenty four hours before a person begins to experience symptoms, they can begin to spread the illness. The ill person is contagious for approximately 5 days.
The flu can cause our bodies to be weakened so that we cannot resist other diseases such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, or dehydration. The flu can be severe in people with other diseases such as asthma, diabetes or pregnant women or elderly people.
Of course the best prevention for yourself and for the community that you live in is the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine does take 10-14 days to provide excellent protection.
Handwashing is the second way of prevention. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until you are able to wash your hands either with soap or with hand sanitizers.
If you are sick, do not spread the disease by being in public. Come to CU Health Services where we can assess you and make sure that you truly have the flu. There is no medication for treatment of the flu, but there are symptom supporting medications. An ill person should not go back to class, work, or be in public areas until they have been fever free for 24 hours or 5 days whichever is the longer.