Flu Season Update

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Influenza is a highly contagious illness that affects people across the country every flu season, which occurs in the fall and winter of each year. It is important to recognize the symptoms of flu and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation to stay home if you have the flu or suspect you may be getting it.

Signs and Symptoms of the Flu

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms, which usually start suddenly, not gradually:

  • Fever or feeling feverish and having chills (not everyone with the flu will have a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Muscle/body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (feeling tired)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (common in children)

Contagiousness

People with the flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins. Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after becoming sick.

If you are sick or have the flu

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay at home until 24 hours after their fever ends (fever = thermometer reading of 100 degrees Fahrenheit [37.8 degrees Celsius] or higher), without the use of medication to lower the fever. Not everyone who has the flu will have a fever.

Prevention

The best way to protect yourself against the flu is by getting vaccinated. It is not too late to receive the flu shot for this flu season. The vaccination takes approximately 10-14 days to become effective, but late-season vaccinations can still help protect you against the flu.

The easiest way to get the flu is to touch your mouth with your hands. If your hands have come into contact with the flu virus, touching your mouth will introduce the virus into your body. To help prevent infection, wash your hands frequently and after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. To wash your hands effectively, apply soap and water to your hands, rub soapy hands together for at least 20 seconds, rinse your hands with water and dry them completely.

If soap and water are not available, use of an alcohol-based hand rub is a helpful interim measure until you can wash your hands. When using an alcohol-based hand rub, apply liquid to your palms, cover all surfaces of the hands with the liquid, and rub your hands together until they are dry.

Source: NC State University Human Resources