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General Information About the Flu

Seasonal epidemics of influenza occur every year in the United States, beginning in the fall. Anyone can get influenza but rates of infection are highest among children. It is caused by the highly contagious influenza virus which is spread by coughing, sneezing, or nasal secretions.

Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea.

Since the 1940’s a vaccine has been available to prevent influenza. Routine influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons 6 months and older. By getting vaccinated you can protect yourself from influenza and may avoid spreading influenza to others.

Antiviral drugs can treat seasonal flu by making people feel better and get better sooner. These drugs need to be prescribed by a doctor and need to be started during the first 2 days of illness. They can be given to children. The priority use for these drugs though is to treat people who are seriously ill or who have a medical condition that puts them at high risk of serious flu complications.