Influenza (flu) is a contagious disease caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs). It can cause mild to severe illness, sometimes leading to death. Influenza symptoms often begin suddenly, with fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but you should also practice good health habits to help stop the spread of germs and the flu virus.

The flu virus can live on hard surfaces for 24 hours, so always protect your hands when you come into contact with things such as a handrail, door handle, or elevator button. Cover your hand with a sleeve to use a handrail or door handle, and push an elevator button with your knuckle rather than the pad of your finger. Protect any surface that you use to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, and:

  • Wash your hands often. If soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you have germs on your hands, they are easily transferred by, for example, rubbing your eyes or licking your fingers.
  • Avoid close contact and crowded spaces.

And if you do get sick, follow this advice to prevent transferring viruses to others:

  • Stay home. In addition to confining yourself, getting rest could shorten the length of your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Most importantly, sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow to keep the viruses off your hands.
  • Wash your hands often. Keeping your hands germ-free is the best way to avoid transferring viruses to your family members, friends, or other people.


Find information on the flu in your local area

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NOTE: The health information provided on this website is designed to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional before starting a new treatment or to answer questions about a medical condition.