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.
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 319 people in the United States in 2011 and 2012. 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
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Influenza A(H7N9) is one of a subgroup of influenza viruses that normally circulate among birds. Until recently, this virus had not been seen in people. However, human infections have now been detected.
As yet, there is limited information about the scope of the disease the virus causes and about the source of exposure. The disease is of concern because most patients have been severely ill. There is no indication thus far that it can be transmitted between people, but both animal-to-human and human-to-human routes of transmission are being actively investigated. (Source: World Health Organization)
Monterey County Health Department
CHDP Letter to all Health Care Facilities regarding Novel Influenza A (N7H9) Virus
What can I do to keep from getting the flu?
- A flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting yourself and your family against the flu.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Stay at least 6 feet away.
Who should get the flu shot?
- Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against the flu each year.
- Vaccination of individuals at high risk for getting serious flu-related complications is especially important, including:
- Children younger than 5 years, but especially children younger than 2 years.
- People 65 years of age and older.
- Pregnant women.
- People who have asthma, neurological and neurodevelopmental issues, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, endocrine disorders, kidney or liver disease, metabolic disorders, weakened immune systems, children less than 19 years old on long-term aspirin therapy, and people who are morbidly obese.
- Vaccination is also important for healthcare workers and those who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading the flu to them.
- People who care for or live with infants less than 6 months old should be vaccinated to protect these babies, who are too young to receive the vaccine themselves.
Where can I go to get a flu shot?
See your healthcare provider. If you do not have a medical home, free or low cost vaccinations are available at walk-in clinics Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 11:00 am and 1:00 to 3:00 pm at the following locations:
Alisal Health Center, 559 East Alisal St, Salinas - 831-769-8870
Seaside Family Health Center, 1150 Freemont Blvd, Seaside - 831-899-8100
Some pharmacies and retail outlets also offer flu vaccines. The HealthMap Flu Vaccine Finder website can assist you in finding one of these locations: http://flushot.healthmap.org/.
Where can I get more information about the flu?
If I am sick, how can I limit the spread of disease?
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Cover coughs and sneezes. Avoid contact with other people except to seek medical care.
When should I stay home from work?
If you feel unwell, ask yourself these three questions:
- Do I have a fever?
- Am I vomiting or do I have diarrhea?
- Do I have an unexplained rash?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you should stay home from work until:
- You have not had symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of symptom-controlling medications (e.g., anti-diarrheal medications like Imodium, fever-reducing medications like Tylenol), OR
- You have a note from a healthcare provider stating you are not contagious and can return to work.
In addition, check with your supervisor about any specific policies that may apply to your workplace.
When should I go to the doctor?
If you get sick and are at high risk for complications or you are concerned about your illness, call your health care provider for advice.
Where can I get more information?
Monterey County 211
California Department of Public Health: www.cdph.ca.gov