Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=99643
Story Retrieval Date: 5/25/2013 4:41:55 AM CST
• What is the flu?
• When is the flu season?
• What are the symptoms of the flu?
• Is the flu dangerous?
What is the flu?
The flu is the influenza virus. It is highly contagious and is spread by coughing, sneezing and even talking.
When is the flu season?
Flu usually affects people in the United States between October and April each year.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The flu usually causes fever, chills, muscle aches, congestion, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, sore throat and fatigue. It can also cause diarrhea and vomiting, but that is more common in children.
Other illnesses can have the same symptoms and are often mistaken for the flu.
Is the flu dangerous?
Some people get sicker than others. On average, 226,000 people are hospitalized every year due to the flu and approximately 36,000 die each year related to the flu although. Most of the flu related deaths occur in people older than 65, but many who are hospitalized are younger than four.
Can the flu be stopped with antibiotics?
No. Since the flu is a virus it cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Are there different types of flu vaccines?
Yes. There are two types of the flu vaccine:
1. Inhaler/Nasal spray (LAIV-Live, attenuated influenza vaccine)
2. Shot (TIV-Trivalent inactivated vaccine)
Who should get the flu vaccine?
• All children between the ages of 6 months and 18
• Pregnant women
• Anyone 50 years or older
• People who have contact with children with high-risk conditions
• People who have contact with children younger than 5
• Health care professionals
Does the flu vaccine work?
Yes. It will prevent infection in 70 percent to 90 percent of people who receive the vaccine.
Why do I need a flu shot each year?
The flu virus is able to change the proteins on the surface of the virus. These changes make it necessary to get the flu vaccine each year.
Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?
No. You can experience flu like symptoms, but you won’t actually receive the flu.
How long can a sick person spread the flu to other?
Most healthy adults may be able to spread one day before getting sick and up to five days after getting sick. This may be longer in children or people with a weakened immune system.
Are there any allergies I should worry about?
Both vaccines are grown in eggs and should not be given to anyone with allergic reactions to chicken or egg protein.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics