Information on Seasonal Influenza (Flu)

General Information

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of seasonal influenza include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • cough
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • tiredness or fatigue

Flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions. Severe illnesses and death can occur as a result of complications associated with the virus.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

Symptoms generally appear between one to four days after exposure.

How does flu spread?

Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?

Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. Children, especially younger children, might be contagious for longer periods. CDC recommends sick people self-isolate until their fever has been gone for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

Is there a vaccine for seasonal influenza?

Yes. Contact you physician or local pharmacy for more information on flu shots. Students may also contact the UAHuntsville Student Health Center, and faculty and staff my contact the Faculty and Staff Clinic.

How long can flu viruses live outside the body?

Some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent handwashing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

What groups of people are the most at risk?

People who are pregnant or have a chronic underlying medical condition may be at higher risk for complications from the flu. These underlying conditions include asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, and inflammatory arthritis. If you have any of these conditions, you are strongly encouraged to contact your physician immediately if you believe you may be getting sick with flu-like symptoms.

What should I do if I get sick?

If you become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, muscle or body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, fatigue, or vomiting and diarrhea, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people, except to seek medical care. If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or seek medical care. Your health care provider will determine whether treatment is needed.

What are the warning signs of serious illness? When should I seek emergency medical care?

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

 

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