What is the flu?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

  • fever (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • body aches, headaches, runny or stuffy nose, chills and fatigue
  • A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

Generally symptoms can last from 3 to 10 days.

REMEMBER that there are many illnesses with symptoms similar to the flu that are not the flu at all.  For example, a common cold or allergies can cause nasal symptoms and cough.  If you have questions about your symptoms or feel you need to be seen because of symptoms contact the Wellness Center and/or your healthcare provider. 

How do flu virus spreads

  1. Person to Person:  Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through direct contact with respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes by people with the flu virus.  If you are close enough to a person with the flu (3 - 6 feet) when they cough or sneeze, you can breathe in the virus.
  2. From Contaminated Objects:  Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.  Some viruses and bacteria can live for some time on items you touch like tables, doorknobs, and desks.    

Length of time an infected person can spread the H1N1 flu virus

At the current time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses.  With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from 1 day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick.  Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.  The CDC is studying the virus and its capabilities to try to learn more and will provide more information as it becomes available.