Stay Healthy: Know the Facts about Flu

Although the temperature may be rising and Spring appears to be chirping around the corner, don’t let something like the flu keep you trapped indoors.  

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. 

Know the signs and symptoms to prevent the spread: 

People who have flu often feel some or all these signs and symptoms that usually start suddenly, not gradually: 

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills 
  • Cough 
  • Sore throat 
  • Runny or stuffy nose 
  • Muscle or body aches 
  • Headaches 
  • Fatigue (very tired) 
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in young children than in adults. 
  • Note: Not everyone with the flu will have a fever.  

How does the flu spread? 

Most experts, the CDC says, believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny 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, nose, or possibly their eyes. 

How long is someone contagious? 

Unfortunately, someone may pass on the flu before they even know they are sick, according to the CDC. Those sickened with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins, but some may infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Those with weakened immune systems and young children may be contagious even longer.  

When do symptoms begin? 

Someone who has been exposed and infected with the flu virus may develop symptoms between one to four days after exposure with an average of about two days.  

How should I treat Flu and when can my child return to school? 

The CDC includes complete information on the steps to take if you suspect flu. Regardless of whether a doctor prescribes antiviral medicine, like Tamiflu, staff and students should be prepared to stay home and recover from the flu for 5-7 days, according to Cobb Schools Nursing Supervisor Melanie Bales. Students should be fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication, like Tylenol.  

Stay healthy Cobb.