What is Flu?
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses.
  • It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
  • The flu is different from a cold.
  • The flu usually comes on suddenly.
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.



Flu Symptoms
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough / Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches / Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Is it a Cold or the Flu?
Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.
  • Flu and the common cold have similar symptoms (e.g. fever, sore throat). It can be difficult to tell the difference between them.
  • Your doctor can give you a flu test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether you have the flu.
  • In general, the flu is worse than the common cold.
  • Symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense with the flu.
  • Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.
  • Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
How Flu Spreads?
Most experts believe that flu viruses 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. 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, eyes or nose.

The Flu Is Contagious. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four 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.
Flu Complications
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than 2 weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections are three examples of complications from flu. The flu 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.
People at Higher Risk from Flu
Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems from influenza can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children are more likely to get complications from influenza.
Flu Severity
Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including:
  • what flu viruses are spreading
  • how much flu vaccine is available
  • when vaccine is available
  • how many people get vaccinated, and
  • how well the flu vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness
More details about "People at High Risk of Developing Flu–Related Complications" - At CDC
When is the flu season in the United States?
In the United States, the peak of flu season has occurred anywhere from late November through March. The overall health impact (e.g., infections, hospitalizations, and deaths) of a flu season varies from year to year. CDC monitors circulating flu viruses and their related disease activity and provides influenza reports each week from October through May. See Weekly U.S. Influenza Summary Update.
Types of Flu
Some of the flu types include:
  • Seasonal Flu: Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It spreads from person-to-person and can cause mild to severe illness; and in some cases, can lead to death.
  • H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): H1N1 flu is a influenza virus causing illness in people. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia, plus avian genes and human genes. Scientists call this a “quadruple reassortant” virus. More Details at Flu.gov
  • H5N1 Flu (Bird Flu): H5N1 (Bird) flu virus is an influenza A virus subtype that is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly to them. The H5N1 (Bird) flu virus does not usually infect people, but rare infections with these viruses have occurred in humans. Nearly all human cases have resulted from people having direct or close contact with H5N1-infected poultry or H5N1-contaminated surfaces. More details at Flu.gov

State & Local Flu Information & Resources

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