Frequently Asked Questions

What is Influenza?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that can be prevented by immunization. It is not the same as the "stomach flu." Flu is caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death.

How does the Influenza virus spread?

The seasonal flu spreads mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

What are the signs and symptoms of Influenza?

Influenza symptoms come on quickly in the form of fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, stuffed-up nose, and body aches. These symptoms can be severe and put you in bed for several days.

How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?

People infected with seasonal flu may be able to infect others from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 days after.

Should I go to class or work if I think I have the flu?

Those with influenza-like illness should stay away from classes and work and limit interactions with other people (called “self-isolation”), except to seek medical care, for at least 24 hours after fever has resolved, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. Some people with influenza will not have fever; therefore, absence of fever does not mean absence of infection. They should stay away from others during this time period even if they are taking antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu.

What should I do if I think I have the influenza virus?

  • Stay home for at least 24 hours after fever has resolved, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
  • If possible, return home to keep from making others sick.
  • Avoid public transportation including the St. Thomas bus and ACTC bus.
  • Students with a private room should remain in their room and receive care and meals from a single person. Students can establish a “flu buddy scheme” in which student’s pair up to care for each other if one or the other becomes ill.
  • If close contact with others cannot be avoided, the ill student should be asked to wear a surgical mask during the period of contact. Examples of close contact include kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or having any other contact between persons likely to result in exposure to respiratory droplets.
  • Seek medical attention if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms (ILI) and have a medical condition that puts you at increased risk of severe illness from flu, are concerned about their illness, or develop severe symptoms such as increased fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or rapid breathing.

Should I get a flu vaccination this year?

Yes. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get flu vaccine this year. Even if you got flu vaccine last year, you should still get flu vaccine again this year.

Getting a flu shot (or nasal spray) helps protect you from getting the flu, so you won’t pass it to people who risk getting very sick -- like babies, pregnant women, elderly people, and people who have chronic diseases.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

Yes. This year's flu vaccine is made in the same way as past flu vaccines. Flu vaccines have an excellent safety record – with an average of 100 million doses used in the U.S. each year.

When should I get vaccinated?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot every year. For best protection, flu vaccine is usually given in the fall before flu season starts. But you can get it anytime during flu season.

Is there treatment of influenza?

Yes. Antiviral medications are used for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with the flu virus. These medications fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

How do I protect myself from contracting influenza?

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Avoid being exposed to others who are sick with a flu-like illness.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Clean your hands often – with soap and water, or a hand sanitizer.
  • Take special care to protect infants. Try not to expose them to large crowds when flu is in your community, and avoid close contact between the baby and family members who may be sick.
  • Do not share drinking cups and straws.
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces often (door knobs, refrigerator handles, phones, water faucets).