What is seasonal influenza (flu)?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. They can cause mild to severe illness and, at times, can lead to death. Some people, such as older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. Complications include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
How is flu spread?
Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when infected people cough, sneeze or talk and droplets are breathed into the mouths or noses of people nearby. A person also might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching his or her own mouth, eyes or nose. You can pass on the flu to someone else before you even know you are sick.
What are the symptoms of flu?
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
|• Fever or having chills||• Cough|
|• Sore throat||• Muscle or body aches|
|• Headaches||• Runny or stuffy nose|
|• Extreme tiredness|
|• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children|
How can I prevent the flu?
Stop the spread of germs!
Remember to follow everyday practices (and teach them to your family members) that prevent the spread of germs causing seasonal flu and other illnesses.
- Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
- Always cover coughs and sneezes with inside of elbow or tissue.
- Stay home when sick!
The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall. All people six months of age and older should get flu vaccine. Seasonal influenza vaccine can be administered by your healthcare provider or a local pharmacy. It takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the shot; protection lasts about a year.
- Flu Shot - Inactivated or Recombinant VIS PDF
For Healthcare Providers:
Which cases of influenza need to be reported to Public Health?
- Laboratory-confirmed influenza deaths in persons of all ages.
- Suspected and laboratory-confirmed infections due to a novel influenza virus, including avian influenza A (H5N1) virus. (Note that 2009 H1N1 is no longer a novel virus).
- Outbreaks of influenza-like illness or laboratory-confirmed influenza in an institutional setting (e.g., long-term care facility).
Can I send specimens to WA Public Health Laboratories for testing?
Yes, but all specimens for submission must be approved through Clark County Public Health prior to submission. Call (360) 397-8182 to get permission for submission.
For more information on influenza virus testing available through the WA Public Health Lab, types of specimens that will be accepted and specimen collection instructions see: WA PHL info sheet.
- Flu News website
- Center for Disease Control's flu webpage
- Downloadable flu print materials, audio/video and web tools website
- Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report 2015-2016 Influenza Season Summary
- Print this poster (PDF) to put up in your facility to remind fellow healthcare workers to get vaccinated.
Protect yourself, Protect your patients