Influenza (flu) is a serious illness caused by flu viruses. It is a contagious respiratory illness that spreads worldwide and usually occurs between October and May in the United States. It can cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms can include fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, and runny or stuffy nose. The flu can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, and blood infections in some people. Anyone can get the flu. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people 65 years or older and people with certain health conditions or a weakened immune system are at greatest risk.
Preventing the Flu
People who have the flu can spread the virus to others. When someone ill with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks, droplets are released. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of those nearby. People can also get the flu by touching a surface or object, such as doorknobs or tables, that has flu virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose afterwards.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in preventing the flu. Please view a list of Orange County community sites offering free flu vaccinations. There are also everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health and the health of others:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Try to avoid close contact with people who may be at risk of becoming severely ill, such as pregnant women, children, and those with chronic illness (i.e., asthma).
If You Are Sick With Flu-like Symptoms
If you have an illness that could be the flu, stay home while you are ill and for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. You should be fever-free (100⁰F) without using fever-reducing medications. Stay home from others as much as possible to avoid infecting them. Please contact your instructors as soon as possible to inform them of your absence.
When to Seek Immediate Medical Care
If you or someone you know is sick and shows any of the following symptoms, get IMMEDIATE medical care:
- Fever over 101⁰F:
- Especially in young children, the elderly and those with chronice medical conditions
- Fever that lasts for more than 4 days
- Fever over 100⁰F that begins after the third day of illness
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
- Excessive drowsiness
- Soaking sweats
- Shaking chills
- Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea:
- Severe vomiting or vomit that is black or bloody
- Diarrhea that is bloody or more than 8 bowel movements per day
- Not drinking enough fluids. Severe signs of dehydraion include extreme thirst, urinating less than normal, shriveled skin, dizziness and confusion. Children and older adults with signs or symptoms of dehydration require immediate referral to the doctor.
- Symptoms worsening after 2-3 days.
If you have fever or respiratory symptoms and need to seek medical attention, please wear a face mask when outside of the house and notify the receptionist immediately of your symptoms upon arrival at the facility.
For More Information
Please view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on influenza.