Seasonal influenza (the flu) is a serious illness that infects millions of Canadians every year. It is a common infectious respiratory disease that begins in the nose and throat. It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly from person to person. Flu cases result in approximately 12,000 hospitalizations and, on average, 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.
Influenza typically starts with a headache, chills and cough. Those are quickly followed by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, running nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children.
Most people will recover from the flu within a week or ten days, but some are at greater risk of developing more severe complications such as pneumonia.
Some people are more likely to get seriously ill if they catch the flu, including:
The seasonal influenza vaccine is safe and effective and remains the best protection against influenza viruses. Everyone over the age of six months is encouraged to get it.
It is especially important for those who are more likely to get seriously ill or suffer complications if they catch the flu. Getting the flu shot every year is important because the vaccine is reformulated annually to protect against the most current strains of the virus. This year’s flu shot protects against specific H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A viruses and one strain of influenza B virus that are expected to make people sick this winter.
Flu shots are also highly recommended for:
In addition to getting the flu shot, you can protect yourself and your family from infection during flu season by taking the following steps:
Learn more by getting a copy of the Flu Prevention Fact Sheet by visiting http://www.fightflu.ca