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Cold & Flu Facts

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What is influenza (flu)?

What is influenza

The flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses, and affects people of all ages. While certain groups (people age 65 and older, young children, and people with chronic medical conditions) are more susceptible to complications from the disease, the flu comes on suddenly and affects a significant portion of the United States. Some flu facts are:

  • 5% to 20% of US population gets the flu each year.
  • More than 200,000 people are hospitalized.
  • On average, each year 36,000 people die from complications of the disease.

When is the flu season?

In the United States, the flu season typically begins in November and can last into May. Most commonly, flu season peaks in late winter (January or February). However, data from the past few decades show that flu outbreaks can peak in any month during the flu season:

When is the flu season

Be sure to check out the current flu outbreak update for the latest on this flu season.

Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How is the flu spread?

How is the flu spread

Influenza is a contagious disease most commonly spread from person to person via coughs and sneezes. This happens when an infected person coughs or sneezes, passing the virus through the air to a nearby person’s nose or mouth. The virus is also contracted when a healthy person touches his/her mouth or nose after touching an infected surface or object.

Adults who are infected with the virus are contagious and can spread the disease from one day before their flu symptoms develop and up to five days after they become sick. Children may be contagious for more than seven days. As the disease has an incubation period of one to four days, many people pass the virus without knowing he/she is sick.

Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Does the flu have complications?

Does the flu have complications

There are complications that stem from the flu. Some of these complications include: bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and aggravation of existing chronic medical conditions (e.g. congestive heart failure, asthma, and diabetes). Children are susceptible to sinus problems and/or ear infections as a result of the flu. Individuals over age 65 and people with chronic medical conditions have the highest risk for complications.

Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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