What is influenza? Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.

What are the symptoms of influenza?  The flu usually comes on suddenly and may include:  fever (usually high; ≥101°F), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, muscle aches/body aches, weakness, nausea and vomiting. Diarrhea can occur, but is more common in children than adults. Influenza causes mild to severe illness, and can be fatal.

Are there vaccines for influenza? Yes. The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year.

What can be done to prevent the spread of influenza?  Get vaccinated every year. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are ill, cover your mouth and nose, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and practice good health habits.

How is influenza spread? The main way influenza viruses are spread is person to person by “droplet spread.” This happens when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled through the air and deposited on the mouth, nose or eyes of people nearby.

How long do I keep my child home from school or child care? Your child should stay home from school or child care for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone – without the use of fever-reducing medications.  A fever is defined as an oral temperature of 100° F or higher.

Information provided by the Cowlitz County Health Department. To reach the Health Department call 360-414-5599, extension 6431.