Influenza (flu)

Influenza or the ‘flu’ is a contagious disease that can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or nasal secretions. Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, or a runny or stuffy nose.

The flu can cause high fever and pneumonia and make existing medical conditions worse. Each year, the flu kills thousands of people and hospitalizes even more. By getting the flu vaccine, you are helping to protect yourself and others.

Everyone is at risk for influenza but especially children, adults 65+, pregnant women, and individuals with chronic health conditions – heart, lung, kidney, or weakened immune systems – can become much more ill when they contract this disease. Influenza viruses are always changing, so annual vaccination is recommended.

You can make a difference in the defense against the flu with your personal actions. Remember the 3CsCover your coughs and sneezes; Clean your hands frequently; and Contain germs by staying home when ill.  People infected with the influenza virus are contagious from a day before they feel sick until their symptoms have resolved. This is why it is so crucial for those who are ill to stay home so the virus is not further transmitted and shared with co-workers, family, and friends.

If you have not received your annual flu shot, contact Public Health at 563-927-7551 or your healthcare provider.

Flu Facts

  • Influenza, which usually spikes in winter, is marked by fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, chills, fatigue and headaches, and muscle/bodyaches. Its main symptoms generally do not include vomiting or diarrhea, which some people call "stomach flu," but which is more likely to be caused by a norovirus or other bugs.
  • Symptoms may last up to two weeks, sometimes longer.
  • People who have the flu are urged to stay home and rest, avoid contact with other people, drink plenty of water and clear liquids, and treat symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Remember the 3 C's: Cover your coughs and sneezes; Clean your hands frequently; and Contain germs by staying home when ill.
  • Complications are most common in people younger than 2 or older than 65; in pregnant women; and in people with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, lung disease, immune-system problems or cancer.
  • Warning signs of an emergency in children include trouble breathing; blue skin; failure to drink enough fluids; inability to wake up or interact with others; fever with a rash; and irritability that makes a child not want to be held. Also watch for flu-like symptoms that ease, then return with a fever and worsening cough.
  • Warning signs of an emergency in adults include difficulty breathing; pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen; sudden dizziness; confusion; and severe or persistent vomiting.

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