About Seasonal Influenza (Flu)
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs) of humans. The flu is different from a cold or other respiratory infection (bronchitis).
Symptoms of Influenza (Flu)
Influenza comes on suddenly and may include the following symptoms: fever, headache, extreme fatigue (tiredness), sore throat, dry cough, stuffy nose, body aches. These are known as “flu-like” symptoms. Vomiting and diarrhea are NOT typical symptoms of influenza.
How Influenza Spreads
Influenza spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks and sends the flu virus into the air, and other people inhale the virus. Influenza can also spread when a person touches a surface that has the flu virus on it, such as a door knob, telephone receiver, computer keyboard, etc., Influenza can also spread when a person touches a surface that has the flu virus on it, such as a door knob, telephone receiver, computer keyboard, etc. and then touches the nose or eyes.
People infected with the influenza virus can spread the flu starting about one day before they feel sick, and adults can continue to pass the virus for 3 to 7 days after symptoms start. Children can pass the virus for longer than 7 days.
Management of Students or Faculty Exposed to Influenza
- Watch for fever (take temperature once a day) and respiratory symptoms for 2-3 days following exposure.
- Symptomatic students or faculty should not go to school or work. The influenza virus is highly contagious and is responsible for large outbreaks resulting in cancellation of classes and school closures.
- If symptoms develop, rest and drink plenty of liquids. Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Take medications to relieve the symptoms of flu, but avoid aspirin.
- If symptoms worsen rather than lessen, contact your personal physician or the Family Medicine Center (996-2901) and tell them you are worried that you have influenza.
Infection Control Recommendations
- Get your influenza vaccine! It's safe and effective.
- Student or faculty member should stay home: no work, school, day care, public areas.
- Cover the mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing and wash hands with soap and friction rub or use waterless hand hygiene products every time you touch your nose or mouth.
- Household/dormitory contacts: hand washing or waterless hand hygiene products (gloves for fluids if possible).
- Routine cleaning with soap and hot water. Use household disinfectants (Lysol© or 1:100 diluted bleach) for environmental surfaces.
- Household/dormitory waste (e.g. body fluids, tissues, gloves) may be discarded as normal waste.
Note: if you live in a dormitory, please report your illness to the residence hall director.
Web Sites for More Information
- Illinois Department of Public Health on H1N1
- Pandemic Flu Planning Checklist for Individuals and Families
- Avian Flu Information
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Illinois Department of Public Health on Influenza
- City of Chicago Department of Public Health
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