Communicable Disease Control
Fever, aches and chills?
The flu is more than a bad cold. In addition to congestion, cough and sore throat, symptoms also include fever and body aches. Flu can be a serious disease, especially in young children, older adults and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes.
The flu virus and many other viruses are spread through droplets from the nose and mouth that get on surfaces from coughing and sneezing. Flu germs can live on surfaces for up to 8 hours.
Stay healthy this flu season:
- get your flu shot early
- wash your hands often
- avoid touching your eyes and face
- do not share personal items such as drinking cups
- cover your cough or sneeze
- do the fist bump instead of shaking hands
The best way to stay healthy during the flu season is to get your flu shot early, before mid November. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in your body to protect you against the flu.
If you are sick with the flu, stay home and away from others (except to go to the doctor) until 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Kids, teens and adults who are active and healthy can get sick enough to miss work or school, or spread it to others. Even if you bounce back quickly, others around you may not. For some, it can lead to serious illness and hospitalization.
The influenza virus changes and mutates often. The flu vaccine is a new vaccine every year. Getting vaccinated yearly is important to make sure you are protected against the strains most likely to spread this flu season.
Even if you have had the flu, you still need the flu shot.
There are many strains of flu virus circulating each flu season. It is possible to get infected with the flu more than once in a year. Get the flu shot and avoid getting sick again.
The vaccine is made from an inactivated or weakened virus that can't give you the flu. There may be other reasons why you might still get sick after getting a flu shot:
- It takes about two weeks to get protection from the vaccine.
- You may have picked up a non-flu virus before or after you got the flu shot.
- How well the flu vaccine works depends on who is being vaccinated. The vaccine can reduce the risk of flu illness by 60% in healthy adults and children. People with weak immune systems, the elderly or those with medical conditions may not respond as well to the vaccine.
- Some people may have mistaken the side effects of the vaccine for the flu. Common side effects of the vaccine include a sore arm where the needle was given, low-grade fever, mild headache and muscle aches. The side effects last only a few days, and are less severe than the flu. They are a good sign that your body is mounting an immune response to the vaccine.
Most side effects of the flu vaccine are mild and go away, such as redness or swelling where the vaccine was given. Allergic reactions are very rare and may include rash, trouble breathing, and swelling of the throat and face.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a very uncommon disease that causes muscle paralysis and has been associated with certain infectious diseases. In very rare instances (about one in one million doses of vaccine), the flu shot has been associated with GBS. GBS is many times more likely in those who get the flu compared those who are vaccinated.
Getting the flu vaccine is always the safer choice. The flu can be a serious disease, especially in young children, older adults, and people with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes.
The flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among healthy children and adults. Children under 2 years have the highest rate of hospitalization from seasonal flu.
Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections. The flu is a viral infection so antibiotics cannot treat it. Anti-viral medications are sometimes used to treat the flu in the elderly and those who get really sick. They must be started within 48 hours of getting sick with the flu to work well.
If you have the flu, a cold, or a fever, you need to drink fluids and rest:
- Hot liquids can soothe a sore throat and provide much needed fluids to prevent dehydration.
- It is recommended that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone, except to receive medical care.
- Staying home from work and school prevents the spread of germs, and gives you the rest you need to recover quickly.