Bug of the Month – Seasonal Influenza
Introducing our new "Bug of the Month." Each month you will be introduced to a new bug that may be living on the surfaces that you touch on an everyday basis! Once you read about these bugs...you will definitely want to wash your hands!
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time. The amount of virus shed appears to correlate with fever, with higher amounts of virus shed when temperatures are highest. Children are much more infectious than adults and shed virus from just before they develop symptoms until two weeks after infection.
It can be difficult to distinguish between the common cold and influenza in the early stages of these infections. Flu symptoms are different from a cold because flu has a high fever with a sudden onset and extreme fatigue. Diarrhea is not normally a symptom of influenza in adults; but, can be a symptom in children.
Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
Patients should be placed in droplet precautions and remain in precautions for at least 5 days – even if they are receiving anti-viral medications.
The best way to protect yourself, your family, and our patients is to get an annual flu shot. Flu vaccine is an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) containing the three most likely circulating influenza viruses. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection to develop in the body.