Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that can be prevented by immunization. It is not the same as the “stomach flu.” Flu is caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death.Â One thing that is sure, is getting the flu feels miserable, and can sometimes make you very sick.Â
Influenza symptoms may start quickly in the form of fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, stuffed-up nose, and body aches. These symptoms could put you in bed for several days.
Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through the coughing, sneezing, or talking of someone with the flu. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too.
In order to protect yourself against the flu, everyone older than 6 months of age should get flu vaccine this year. Even if you got seasonal flu vaccine last year and/or the H1N1 vaccine, you should still get seasonal flu vaccine again this year.
Things that you can do to protect yourself and others against the flu are:
- Get vaccinated.
- Avoid being exposed to others who are sick with a flu-like illness.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Clean your hands often â€“ with soap and water, or a hand sanitizer.
- Do not share drinking cups and straws.
- Clean commonly touched surfaces often (door knobs, refrigerator handles, phones, water faucets).Â
So far this season, influenza activity in Minnesota has remained low. Â Â No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported but we are starting to see some cases in Minnesota.Â Â
For more information log onto www.health.state.mn.us
Colleen LaVine RN â€“ Infection Prevention Practitioner â€“ Fairview Red Wing Medical Center