About the Flu Virus

The flu is highly contagious and can cause severe complications for the very young, old and those with underlying health conditions. Getting ill with the flu can mean several missed days of school, work and other activities. Protect yourself and those around you – get your flu shot!

It is important to get a flu shot yearly because flu viruses change from year to year. Each year the influenza (flu) vaccine is updated to include the current viruses that are circulating.

The symptoms of influenza illness can include high fever, cough, headache, general aches, fatigue, eye pain, shortness of breath and lack of appetite. Some people have also reported a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The flu virus is mainly spread person-to-person through coughing or sneezing by people infected with the flu virus. People may also become infected by touching something with the  flu virus on it, such as counters or doorknobs, and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

How can I reduce the risk of getting the flu virus or spreading the virus to others?

  • Get your flu shot!
  • Wash your hands regularly with warm water and regular soap, especially after you cough or sneeze.
  • When you can’t wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw the tissue in the trash right after you use it, and wash or sanitize your hands right away.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough and sneeze into your upper arm or sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs can spread that way.
  • If you get sick, stay home and limit contact with others.

What should I do if I’ve been in contact with someone who has the flu virus?

If you are told you have been in contact with someone who has the flu virus, it is important to monitor yourself for symptoms. If you are not feeling sick, you do not need to stay home from work or school, see a doctor or take preventative medicine. Individuals can call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or visit http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/, 24 hours a day / 7 days a week if they have questions or concerns.

What should I do if I think I am sick with the flu virus?

You should self-isolate, which means staying home and limiting contact with others including avoiding travel and not going to work or school, for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (as measured without the use of fever-reducing medicine).

Treat mild symptoms as you normally would with rest and fluids. This will decrease the chance of spreading the virus to other people. Individuals can call HealthLink BC 8-1-1 or visit http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/, 24 hours a day / 7 days a week if they have questions or concerns, or if they are feeling ill.

It is expected that most people will recover from the flu without needing medical care. In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • sudden dizziness
  • confusion
  • severe or persistent vomiting
  • flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

For more information, visit www.healthlinkbc.ca or call Health, Safety and Environment at (250)807-8859.