The influenza (flu) season is upon us and will continue for the next few months. Here are some important facts about influenza:
What is influenza?
Influenza (the flu) is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by influenza viruses. There are many different influenza viruses and they change on a regular basis.
How do you get the flu?
Experts believe that the flu viruses are mostly spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The droplets produced carry the virus which can land in the mouths and/or noses of people near by exposing them to the viruses. You can also get the flu virus by touching an infected surface and then touching your own mouth, eyes or nose.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The most common symptoms of the flu are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, nausea and feeling very tired. Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea may occur as well. Not everyone with the flu will develop all these symptoms and some may not get a fever. Usually flu symptoms start very quickly.
How long is a person with the influenza virus contagious?
The influenza viruses can be spread from 1 day prior to getting sick to a week after symptoms begin.
What is the treatment for the flu?
The flu is a virus so it cannot be treated with antibiotics. There are antiviral drugs that can be used to treat the flu, but they must be prescribed by a doctor and taken within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. These medications may shorten the length of illness from the flu and prevent serious complications from the flu.
Children under the age of 18 should NEVER be given any products containing Aspirin. Please check with your family doctor for treatment of fever.
How long should your child remain at home when they have the flu?
Children and adults should remain at home until they are fever free for 24 hours without taking any fever reducing medication (i.e. Tylenol or Ibuprofen). They should also feel well enough to return to normal daily activities.
What can you do to help prevent the spread of the flu?
- Cover all coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough/sneeze into your sleeve.
- Throw all dirty tissues in the trash immediately.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Alcohol-based hand gel can be substituted if soap and water is not readily available but is less effective than soap and water.
- Wash all surfaces of your hands thoroughly. Make sure you wash between your fingers and clean under your fingernails. Rub your hands together vigorously.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
- Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, bathrooms, water faucets, handles on cabinets, drawers and refrigerators. The influenza viruses can live on these surfaces for several hours.
-Most importantly, get a flu shot. IT IS NOT TOO LATE! Vaccination is recommended for anyone over 6 months of age. The current flu vaccine is a close match to the current flu viruses affecting our area. Contact your family doctor or local clinic to schedule a flu vaccine if you have not received one. The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the spread of the flu virus especially since people are most contagious prior to showing any symptoms.
If you have any questions, please call your family doctor or your school nurse. Your school nurse can be reached at the numbers listed below.
Belmont Hills – Ext. 1105
Cornwells – Ext. 1205
Samuel K. Faust – Ext. 1305
Benjamin Rush – Ext. 1405
Russell C. Struble – Ext. 1505
Valley – Ext. 1605
Robert K. Shafer – Ext. 2205
Cecelia Snyder – Ext. 2305
Bensalem High School – Ext. 3005