No one wants to get sick and there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself
- Be vaccinated – vaccination is the single most effective way of protecting yourself against the flu.
- Hand washing and personal hygiene, such as trying not to touch your mouth or nose.
- Where possible, avoid crowds during the flu season.
Get Flu Facts
Influenza = the flu
Commonly known as ‘the flu’, influenza is a highly contagious disease that can be serious, debilitating and affect the whole body. The flu is caused by a particular group of RNA viruses (Orthomyxoviridae) and is spread by infected people coughing or sneezing as well as from surfaces contaminated by respiratory secretions. So it’s easy to catch and spread and hard to avoid.
Influenza, or ‘the flu’ is an ever mutating bug that can leave you feeling like you’ve just been run over by a bus. Don’t get it confused with the common cold, which is much less severe – when you have the flu you will know it.
Seasonal influenza can be fatal to people in high risk groups. Influenza is a potentially fatal disease estimated to cause more deaths than road accidents every year: between 1500 and 3500 influenza deaths annually.
Influenza is extremely contagious. Studies have shown that influenza can survive for:
- An hour or more in the air in enclosed environments
- More than 8 hours on hard surfaces such as stainless steel and plastic
- Up to 15 minutes if transferred from tissues to hands
- Up to 5 minutes after transfer from the environmental surfaces
- One of the hardest things about stopping the spread of the flu is that people can be contagious a day before experiencing any symptoms. Of course this means we are out and about and unfortunately spreading the virus before anyone knows they are unwell.
People at high risk of complications from influenza People with underlying medical conditions:
- Heart conditions
- Severe asthma
- COPD and other lung conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 and type 2)
- Kidney problems
- Impaired immunity such as HIV infection
- Malignant cancers
- Chronic neurological disorders
- Pregnant women
- People over 65 years of age
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island adults aged over 15 years
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and are also at increased risk of severe complications from influenza.
Everybody should be protected by flu vaccination. Pretty much everyone can benefit from the flu vaccine. Remember, even if you’re fit and healthy you could pass the virus onto someone who is at risk of becoming very sick if they catch the flu.
If you care for children, older parents or any other at risk person then a flu shot is highly recommended.
Influenza is highly contagious and can be spread for up to a day before symptoms appear and for five days afterwards.