Influenza, often called the “flu,” is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by an influenza virus. Many people use the term the ‘flu’ to refer to any illness caused by a virus, such as ‘stomach flu’ or the common cold which are different than influenza.
The flu is not always a harmless illness. It can cause serious health risks, including death. A person with influenza is also at risk of other infections. These include viral or bacterial pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.
Your best defense is to get your flu shot. Although, the H1N1 pandemic is declared over, the virus will continue to circulate. This year’s flu shot will give you protection against three strains of influenza viruses, including H1N1.
Who’s at greatest risk?
The risk of complications is greater for seniors 65 years and older, very young children, and people who have lung or heart diseases, certain chronic health problems, or weakened immune systems.
What are the symptoms?
Influenza symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness, and cough. Children may also experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Symptoms can begin about one to four days after a person is first exposed to the influenza virus. Fever and other symptoms may last up to seven to ten days, with the cough and weakness lasting up to two more weeks.
Visit the Symptom Checker on the HealthLink BC website to learn more.
How can I prevent the spread?
Wash your hands. Frequent hand washing can reduce the risk of all respiratory infections.
Cover your cough. You can also reduce the spread of germs by practising safe coughing and sneezing techniques.
Stay at home. Anybody who thinks they have an influenza-like illness (i.e. fever and cough) should remain at home and limit exposure to others.
Looking for a flu shot clinic?
Flu shots will be available starting late October/early November. For more information, see Flu Shots in the Immunization section.
Are you a health care professional?
Visit our Professionals – Influenza section.