What You Should Know About Flu

What is influenza?

Influenza or “flu” is a respiratory disease caused by two main types of influenza virus – type A and type B. It is generally considered a seasonal illness that occurs each winter in Wisconsin. It is not a reportable disease in Wisconsin, and the annual number of cases is unknown.

How is influenza spread?

Influenza is spread from person to person when droplets of moisture from a person with influenza are spread through the air when that person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets contain viruses that when inhaled by another person can cause an infection.

How soon do symptoms appear?

Symptoms appear typically 1 to 3 days after exposure to respiratory droplets from an infected person.

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Influenza illness ranges from very mild to severe, depending on such factors as the influenza strain involved, and the person’s susceptibility and general physical condition. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, dry cough, and aching in the muscles and joints. Most people recover within a week after they become ill, although they may continue to feel tired for several days. Influenza can last longer and cause life-threatening complications in elderly persons, persons with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart, lung, or kidney disease, severe anemia, or chronic diseases that weaken the immune system including persons with HIV or AIDS infection.

How long is an infected person able to spread influenza?

An infected person can spread influenza virus in discharges from their nose and throat from 24 hours before the onset of their illness to 3-5 days after onset of illness.

How is influenza diagnosed?

Usually the diagnosis is based on the appearance of specific signs and symptoms of influenza. Confirmation can be achieved through laboratory testing of throat specimens or blood samples.

How is influenza treated?

Certain anti-viral drugs available with a physician’s prescription may reduce the severity of disease caused by influenza if therapy is started early in the course of the illness (within 48 hours of the beginning of symptoms). Otherwise, bed rest, drinking increased amounts of liquids, and taking pain relievers to help reduce the discomfort of illness is recommended.

 

 

 

 

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