Flu can be spread to others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after. The following measures can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like influenza.
· If you get sick with a flu-like illness, stay home. You should not return to work or school until you are fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication.
· Wash your hands often. If soap and water are not available use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
· Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill.
If you do develop flu-like symptoms, there are antiviral medications that your health care provider may prescribe that can help lessen the symptoms, shorten the illness, and may prevent serious complications like pneumonia. These drugs work best when given within 2 days of getting sick (CDC, 2013).
The best protection against the flu is getting the influenza vaccine. It is not too late. The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated as long as influenza viruses are circulating. Flu seasons are unpredictable and substantial flu activity can occur as late as May. Antibodies that offer protection from influenza develop about two weeks after the vaccination (CDC, 2013). Check with your health care provider to see if the influenza vaccination is recommended for you and your family.
Center for Disease Control (CDC), (2013). What You Should Know for the 2012-13 Influenza Season. Retrieved from, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2012-2013.htm#prepare
National Association of School Nurses (NASN), (2012). Seasonal Influenza. Retrieved from, https://www.nasn.org/ToolsResources/SeasonalInfluenza#tools
Read the Flu Guide for Parents
How To Tell the Flu from a Cold