Infectious Diseases Information
Several sources were referenced to create the following information including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, The World Health Organization, and The Pan American Health Organization.
What is Influenza (Also Called Flu)?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Symptoms of Flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- *fever (or feeling feverish/chills)
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle or body aches
- fatigue (very tired)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Unsure whether it’s the flu or just a common cold? Check out this chart and compare your symptoms.
|Fever||Common, often high||Not as common, often low-grade|
|Body ache||Common, often severe||Slight or mild|
|Fatigue, tiredness||Severe, sudden onset||Uncommon|
|Stuffy nose, sneezing||Sometimes||Common|
|Duration||6-10 days||2-4 days|
* Bold denotes the characteristic signs of flu
* Please note LVC Health Center doesn’t screen for influenza, see your local urgent or express care center or family doctor for testing.
How Flu Spreads
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the 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 nose.
Period of Contagiousness
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Preventing Seasonal Flu
- Vigilant handwashing during peak months (December–March)
- Before eating
- Before removing or applying contact lenses
- After being in large crowds (church, grocery store, mall, gym, college campus, etc.)
- After blowing nose or coughing
- Before and after touching mouth, nose, eyes
- The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common for the year.
- Regularly clean your cell phone and handheld appliances with antibacterial wipes.
- If you live or work in a heavily traveled area, regularly wipe down doorknobs, counters, and light switches with antibacterial wipes.
- Objects you clean with antibacterial wipes should be left to air dry. Do not dry with a towel or cloth.
- If you suspect you have the flu or have been diagnosed, avoid contact with people when possible.
- If you are sick with flu–like illness, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- Cover your sneeze or cough (use elbow or tissue rather than bare hands, avoid hankies or reusable tissues).
- Listen to your body – if you are sick and overly tired or fatigued, you need rest.
- Take Tamiflu within 12-48 hours of onset of symptoms.
- Have hand lotion on hand for all the hand washing you are doing!
Keep up Your Resistance
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid stress—it lowers your resistance
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t smoke—it damages air passages making them more vulnerable to the virus
- Keep indoor humidity up—low humidity dries out nasal passages.
When Should I Seek Medical Help?
- If you have a chronic medical condition, it is important that you see doctor at the earliest signs of symptoms;
- If you have a very high fever >101 degrees
- If your cough produces sputum (phlegm) and/or is keeping you up at night despite taking medication
- Shortness of breath or chest tightness/pain
- Anti-viral medications are recommended for hospitalized patients with confirmed, probable, or suspected novel influenza (H1N1) and persons who have underlying medical conditions or are at risk for seasonal influenza complications
Information and Resources on the Web
Know the symptoms: Measles a very contagious, viral, respiratory infection. Symptoms include:
- rash (a characteristic red, blotchy rash that appears on the face then spreads body-wide in days 3 through 7 after symptom onset)
- fever, often 101ºF (38.3ºC) or higher
- cold symptoms (cough, runny nose, watery eyes)
- if you suspect you may have measles stay home and call your family doctor for instructions. Do not attend school, work or social engagements!
Know your immunity status: All persons should have two doses of measles vaccination. Special populations that should have conversations with a doctor about their immunity status include:
- Those born after 1956 and have not received two doses of effective measles vaccine
- Those vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967
- Those who plan on becoming pregnant in the near future
- Those who use medications to lower their immune system including oral or inhaled steroid medications, or chemotherapy. Conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, cancer, organ and stem cell transplant, psoriasis or inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s are often treated with immune suppressive drugs
- Treatment may include booster vaccination or a blood test to confirm immunity
Know your risk: If you fall under any of the following you may have increased risk for contracting measles. Please discuss your risk with your doctor.
- Work in healthcare or place with residential living
- Previously declined vaccinations due to religious or philosophical reasons
- Will be traveling internationally or visiting an area with an on-going measles outbreak (access the CDC’s website for current info on outbreak trends) https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list
- Fall into any of the following susceptible group categories: newborns, persons who use medications to lower their immune system including oral or inhaled steroid medications, or chemotherapy. Conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, organ and stem cell transplant, psoriasis or inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s are often treated with immune-suppressive drugs.
- Vaccine assessment tool, take a brief quiz to determine your risk for measles: https://www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultimmsched/
Symptoms: can include fever, sore throat, headache, back pain, achy muscles, and fatigue followed by a rash. Cases that have occurred in the US do not always have systemic symptoms and can present with rash. Rash looks like red raised bumps, dimpled bumps and/or blisters. In the US, this has commonly been located in the genital area but can occur in other locations. Rash can be painful or itchy. After 7-14 days the rash will crust, dry up and then fall off.
Timeline: incubation period of 3-17 days. Illness lasts 2-4 weeks.
Transmission: close personal skin-to-skin and intimate contact
Testing and treatment are available.
Please contact Shroyer Health Center if you have concerning symptoms and we will provide additional guidance. Remember appointments must be scheduled.
For travelers going to these designated areas, (Florida and Gulf states, Mexico, South America, Caribbean Islands, Hawaii) be aware of the emergence of mosquito-borne infections and ways to prevent illness.
The best way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses such as, Zika virus infection, Dengue fever, or chikungunya is to:
- Avoid mosquito bites.
- Use air conditioning or window and door screens when indoors.
- Mosquito netting for sleeping, especially if windows are open.
- Wear long sleeves and pants, and use insect repellents when outdoors. Most repellents, including DEET and all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, can and should be used for all ages, male/female, including pregnant and lactating women according to the product label.
- Sexual contact with infected individuals could result in blood-borne Zika virus, condoms are necessary!
- No vaccine or preventive drug is available.