What is a Pandemic?
All pandemics have the potential to cause serious illness, death, and large-scale social and economic disruption.The flu (influenza) is a highly contagious illness caused by influenza viruses infecting nose, throat, and lungs. There are two main factors used to determine the impact of a pandemic. The first is the seriousness of illness associated with infection. The second factor is how easily the pandemic virus spreads from person-to-person.
How does infection happen?
When people with a flu cough, sneeze or talk tiny droplets, loaded with the flu virus, escape. These droplets can fly far land settle on nearby people. Droplets loaded with the flu virus also land on objects and 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 their nose. Since flu is an airborne virus, meaning it can be transmitted through the air, it is especially contagious.
How long can you infect someone?
You can infect others before know you are sick and while you are sick. Infecting others starts 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. Symptoms begin in about 1 to 4 days, with an average of about 2 days.
Complications of Flu
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Who is at high risk getting the flu?
Anyone can get the flu. At higher risk are people 65 years and older, anyone in a long-term care facility, anyone with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer patients, HIV-positive patients, Lupus and any other autoimmune compromised person, pregnant women, people with body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, American Indian or Alaska Natives and young children.
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever
- Get a flu shot. It’s the No. 1 thing you can do to prevent the flu
- Wash your hands a lot. If you come in contact with people who are contagious, you have to wash your hands with soap. To completely get rid of viruses from your skin, you need to scrub hard for 20 seconds or more. A good way to time yourself is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. It doesn’t matter if the water’s hot or cold, the very act of scrubbing will physically remove the germs.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer on your hands as that kills cold and flu germs. Spread the sanitizer over the front, back and between the fingers and nails of your hand.
- Avoid getting close to people who are sick. Don’t stand close to someone who is ill and avoid shaking hands
- Keep your surroundings clean, do not share dishes, glasses and wash clothing, bedspreads, and towels of sick family members.
- Household, social and workplace viral touchpoints
- Shared dishes at a bar such as candy, peanut or chip bowls – DO NOT touch or eat from those
- Dirty doorknobs and touch points – wipe frequently with disinfectant, especially when entering and leaving bathrooms
- Germy linens, couch pillows, and throws – wash and dry
- Used dishes, toothbrushes, and tissues – DO NOT share, discard tissues immediately and don’t touch them – they are loaded with the virus
- Disinfecting spray
- Rubbing alcohol
- Washer, dryer
- Household bleach
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