What is influenza?
- Influenza (the flu) is a viral disease of the respiratory tract that can cause mild to severe illness
- Symptoms include fever, chills, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle pain, runny eyes, nasal congestion, sore throat, extreme weakness and fatigue
- Cough is severe and may last 2 or more weeks; most other symptoms resolved in 5-7 days
How is influenza spread?
- Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets and contact with secretions
- Droplet spread occurs when someone with influenza coughs or sneezes into another person’s eyes, nose or mouth
- Influenza is spread in the environment when people cough or sneeze onto surfaces, or touch surfaces with contaminated hands
- The virus can survive for hours on solid surfaces such as doorknobs and telephone handsets
- The virus can be picked up when someone touches a contaminated surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth. Influenza exposure risk increases in areas where people live in close contact, such as in long-term care facilities.
- The virus can be spread to others before symptoms develop
Where is it found?
- Influenza is found in the respiratory tract of humans
- Animals, mostly birds and pigs, are natural reservoirs of influenza virus
- Influenza can be found in the environment for up to 48 hours on some surfaces
- Areas with low temperature and low humidity allow influenza to survive on solid surfaces for a longer period of time
Prevention and control
- Clean hands well and often with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- Cough into a tissue or your sleeve and clean your hands after sneezing or coughing
- Receive the flu shot every year before the flu season begins
- Avoid coming into contact with others who are sick with influenza
Staff are encouraged to receive their flu shot to be protected in advance of influenza in our community. Staff vaccination clinics began in October. To date, 68.3 per cent of staff have received the vaccination over the first few weeks of the campaign.
- Get a flu shot - Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
- Learn more about how St. Joseph's is working to prevent influenza