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Did you know?

The 1918 flu pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920) infected 500 million people across the world and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million (three to five percent of the world's population), making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk of serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.

Signs and Symptoms of Flu

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
*It is important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever

How Flu Spreads

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.

What is a flu pandemic?

A flu pandemic means a worldwide outbreak of the disease.

How does seasonal flu differ from the pandemic flu?

Seasonal Flu

  • Occurs every year usually in the winter
  • Affects up to about 10% of the population
  • For most people it is an unpleasant but not life-threatening infection
  • Annual vaccination is available for those at risk of serious illness

Pandemic Flu

  • Occurs rarely (three times in the 20th century)
  • May affect around 25% of the population
  • It could be a more serious infection for everyone
  • Vaccination would probably not be available in the early stages of a pandemic

How can I protect my family and myself?

  • Ask about a flu shot
  • Wash hands often (for 20 seconds)
  • Cover your cough an sneeze with a tissue or sleeve
  • Stay home if you feel sick
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes
  • Practice healthy habits! Eat healthy foods, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly
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