The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary in different parts of the world and from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks between December and February, although seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. This season, activity began increasing in early December, and as of early February flu remains widespread.
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold and it usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Some people may have vomiting and
diarrhea, though this is more common in
children than adults.
* Its important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people can develop complications (such as
pneumonia), some of which can be life-threatening and result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications derived from flu.
The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition triggered by the flu.
Anyone can get the flu, and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications This includes people 65 years and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions,
pregnant women and young children.
During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. People should begin getting vaccinated
soon after the vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, before flu season begins. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating
in the community, its not too late to get vaccinated. As additional precaution stay away from sick people and wash your hands
to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.