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Department of Health News 

This news item expired on 10/31/2008, so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.

Get Prepared for the Flu

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What IS the flu?What is Seasonal Influenza (Flu)?
Flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs that is caused by influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death.

What are the symptoms?
Most people with the flu feel very tired and have other symptoms that include:

  • fever (usually high)
  • headache
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, can also occur but are more common in children than adults.

How serious is flu?
Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than 2 weeks. Some people, however, will develop life-threatening complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of flu. Those most likely to develop complications include:

  • people age 65 years and older
  • people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)
  • pregnant women
  • young children

Complications may include pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Chronic health conditions can also be made worse by flu such as asthma and chronic congestive heart failure.

How is flu spread?
People that have the flu usually cough, sneeze, and have a runny nose. Other people can get the flu by breathing in these droplets getting them in their nose or mouth.

Most health adults may be able to spread the flu from 1 day before getting sick to up to 5 days after getting sick. This can be longer in children and in people who don’t fight disease as well.

How can seasonal flu be prevented?
The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get a flu shot every year.

Other ways to prevent flu include:

  1. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  2. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Then, throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the inside of your elbow.
  4. Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Use soap and water and wash as long as it takes you to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. When you cannot use soap and water, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that has germs on it and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
  6. Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Who should get a flu shot?
Anyone who wants to reduce his or her chances of getting the flu can get a flu shot. Certain people should get a shot every year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for a high-risk person.

The CDC recommends that these people get a flu shot each year:

  • Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high-risk for complications from flu, including:
    • Health care workers
    • Anyone who lives with a person at high risk for complications from the flu
    • Anyone who lives with or cares for children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to get a flu shot)

 

For flu shot clinic information, call the Buncombe County Health Center Flu Vaccine Hotline – 828-250-5300 or see below for a list of clinics.

Flu Shot Clinics Planned