Friday, September 22, 2023

How Quickly Does The Flu Spread

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Check If You Have Flu

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Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:

  • a sudden high temperature of 38C or above
  • an aching body
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.

Cold and flu symptoms are similar, but flu tends to be more severe.

Differences between cold and flu

Appears quickly within a few hours Appears gradually
Affects more than just your nose and throat Affects mainly your nose and throat
Makes you feel exhausted and too unwell to carry on as normal Makes you feel unwell, but you’re OK to carry on as normal

How Does The Flu Spread

The flu mostly spreads through respiratory particles that are released when your cough and sneeze. If you have the flu and sneeze in a crowded area, those around you can inhale the particles of your sneeze and get the virus.

The virus can also be transmitted through coming into contact with objects or surfaces, such as a door handle or keyboard, that are coated in these respiratory particles. If you touch a contaminated object and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you may get the flu.

If you already have the flu, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of passing it to others:

  • Stay home. The flu is extremely contagious, so it can spread quickly in crowded settings, such as schools and offices. Try to limit your contact with others until youve been fever-free for at least 24 hours.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands with soap and warm water often, especially after coughing, sneezing, or touching your face. If soap and water arent available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose. When you sneeze or tough, try to do so into a tissue or the crook of your elbow to reduce the spread of respiratory particles. Make sure to quickly throw away any used tissues.

Avoiding Flu This Season

None of us want to get ill with the flu or pass it on to those around us. There are some things you can do to lower your chance of catching the flu and other seasonal illnesses.

Our top tips to avoid the flu:

  • Wash your hands regularly. If you cant use soap and water, then use hand sanitiser
  • Keep surfaces around your home clean
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • When coughing or sneezing cover your mouth with a tissue
  • Avoid getting too close to people who are sick

If youre sick with the flu you should take time off work and stay home until you feel well. You can help yourself feel better by resting, keeping warm and staying hydrated. You can also take flu remedies and painkillers to help ease symptoms. Make sure to read the information leaflet before taking flu treatments.


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It Likely Did Not Start In Spain

Although it is called the Spanish flu, modern virologists and epidemiologists from around the world agree that this influenza pandemic did not start in Spain. Because Spain was neutral in World War I, which overlapped the pandemic, people believe that other countries would not have been as forthright about the outbreak in their countries. Spain reported outbreaks to news organizations in the spring of 1918 when many countries involved in the war would likely be unwilling to broadcast the toll the flu was taking on their own troops and supplies.

Its Never Too Late To Get The Flu Vaccine


Everyone should get an annual flu shot. If you havent had your flu shot this year, its never too late to be vaccinated. Particularly if youre in an at-risk group and eligible for free flu vaccination.

The flu vaccination is free for:

  • children aged 6 months to under 5 years
  • pregnant women
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people with chronic medical conditions.

You can get your flu shot from a range of providers including GPs, community health centres and some pharmacies.

Please note, some doctors or other immunisation providers may charge a consultation fee. Check with your local immunisation provider to see whether there are any costs involved.

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Managing Your Symptoms At Home

If you’re otherwise healthy, you can look after yourself at home by resting, keeping warm and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

If you’re concerned about coronavirus , be mindful of our ibuprofen advice on the coronavius page.

If you feel unwell and have a fever, you can take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to lower your temperature and relieve aches. Children under 16 shouldn’t be given aspirin.

Stay off work or school until you’re feeling better. For most people, this will take about a week. See your GP if your symptoms get worse or last longer than a week.

Read the page on preventing flu for more information about stopping the infection spreading to others.

Who Should You Get A Flu Vaccine And Which One Should You Choose

Flu typically spreads in the fall and winter. It usually starts to spread in October and peaks between December and February. That’s why this time is called the flu season.

It takes at least two weeks for your flu vaccine to start working, so try to get vaccinated by the end of October. However, getting vaccinated after October can still help protect you from the flu. Because older adults may lose immunity from a flu vaccine more quickly, try to avoid getting vaccinated too early .

Several flu vaccines are available. There are also two types of high-dose vaccinations specifically for people 65 years and older that create a stronger immune response after vaccination. Talk with your health care provider or pharmacist about which vaccine is best for you.

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Ok So How Does The Flu Spread

The flu mainly spreads from person to person, and the CDC says that infected people can spread the virus to people up to six feet away. The flu usually spreads through respiratory droplets that emerge when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk.

Those droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or be inhaled into the lungs these then make them sick. Less commonly, people can get the flu from touching an infected surface or object and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes, the CDC says.

Both Spread Primarily Through Respiratory Droplets

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The main way COVID-19 spreads from person to person is thought to be through large respiratory droplets expelled from an infected person when they exhale, sneeze, cough, etc. If another person inhales enough of those droplets, theres a solid chance theyll get sick, too. Thats quite similar to the flu.

Heidi Zapata, a Yale Medicine infectious disease doctor, said influenza spreads primarily through tiny spitballs that are generated when we talk, laugh, sneeze, cough, sing. So a face mask which has been shown to reduce the respiratory droplets a person expels into the surrounding air and potentially inhales should lower your risk for the flu just as it does with COVID-19.

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Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 Now If:

  • you’re worried about your baby’s or child’s symptoms
  • you’re 65 or over
  • you’re pregnant
  • you have a long-term medical condition for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
  • you have a weakened immune system for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV
  • your symptoms do not improve after 7 days

111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.

Go to or call 111.

Are There Other Ways To Prevent The Infection

To prevent the transmission of influenza use the following hygiene practices:

  • Wash hands after contact with respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing.
  • Use tissues to contain respiratory droplets.
  • Keep your hands away from your face .
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces such as door knobs, or light switches. Regular household cleaners and disinfectants are appropriate.
  • If you think you are sick, stay home.

Good personal hygiene practices will reduce the risk of infection. However, the most effective method of prevention is vaccination.


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Treating Cold And Flu

Both cold and flu cause symptoms that can disrupt daily life. In most cases, viral infections run their course relatively quickly without any treatment.

Many people find relief after treating the symptoms of these illnesses, however. A wide range of drugs help treat the symptoms of cold and flu. These are available over the counter .

There is also a selection of cold and flu medication available for purchase online.

These medications may be useful if severe symptoms make normal function difficult. In some people with influenza, doctors may prescribe antiviral medications.

Some people choose to take preventive action against flu in the form of vaccines. Creating a vaccine for a constantly evolving virus is difficult.

However, the CDC report that the vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the flu by

What Should A Person Do Who Thinks They Have Influenza

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There are two principles: 1. Look after yourself and 2. Dont infect others.

The customs vary with the country. In some countries most people expect to see a doctor while in other countries it is not always thought necessary to actually see a doctor unless the person seems very ill or is in a risk group. People with chronic or long-standing illness may need medical attention earlier and quickly.

The best advice is for the person to go home, use handkerchiefs properly , wash his or her hands frequently, do not share towels, rest, drink plenty of fluids and take medicines that will reduce the temperature and the aching . If it is necessary to have people about him or her at home he or she might consider wearing a simple disposable mask.

Most influenza illnesses are self-limiting and may be caused either by influenza or other viruses/pathogens. It is best to treat the infection at home until the person is well enough to return to normal activities.

However advice from the persons doctor or nurse must be sought quickly if symptoms become more severe or last more than about a week.

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Is The Flu Vaccine Safe For Kids With Allergies

Even though the flu vaccine contains egg protein, most children with egg and other food allergies can be immunized safely with a few basic precautions.

Children with established diagnoses of severe egg allergy should not be immunized without consulting a pediatric allergist. Most, however, can be vaccinated safely after a skin-prick test to the vaccine itself to gauge the risk for a reaction. Children with suspected yet unconfirmed allergies and those with mild egg allergies can usually be vaccinated in their pediatricians office.

An estimated 2 percent to 3 percent of U.S. children are allergic to eggs. Leaving them unprotected against the flu can lead to many unnecessary yet preventable infections and hospitalizations. Many children with food allergies also have asthma, putting them at even higher risk for complications from the flu. Pediatricians should make special efforts to vaccinate those at high risk for complications, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics .

But Probably Not From Someone Several Rows Away

Outside of that immediate radius from a sick passenger, however, the risk was much loweronly about 3%. Because air droplets from sneezing and coughing dont typically travel much farther than a few feet, most passengers on the plane would be protected from an airborne virus, says Vicki Stover Hertzberg, PhD, professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics at Emory University and first author of the study.

Hertzberg says its a myth that recirculated air in planes make it more likely for viruses to spread through an entire cabin. Most modern planes infuse fresh air at a very high rate, she says, actually more often than in your typical modern office building.

One other factor to think about, however, is the flight attendants who are constantly moving around the cabin and touching food and beverages. Sick crew members are less likely to come to work than healthy ones, Hertzberg and her colleagues point out in their paperbut if they do, according to the studys calculations, theyre likely to infect 4.6 people per flight.

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Schools Are Likely To See Upticks In Flu Activity

Younger children between the ages of 6-12 usually have the highest incidences of flu activity and infection than other school-aged children. This is usually because children are more likely to experience flu as they learn basic hygiene.

Teachers and school administration will take extra time in order to promote hygiene awareness for younger children. However, the rapid speed at which the flu spreads may still likely contribute to increased flu activity.

Additionally, middle and high schools are also likely to see upticks in flu activity since the close proximity of several students can quickly cause a flu outbreak.

Symptoms Of The Common Cold

How Fast Do Viruses Really Spread?

Once they infect the body, viruses spread rapidly. The symptoms of the common cold develop as the immune system responds to eliminate the common cold virus.

While the effects of a common cold are usually mild and resolve without treatment, they can be irritating and disruptive.

Symptoms of the common cold include:

  • congestion in the nose and sinuses
  • a runny nose

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How Quickly Do Flu Symptoms Appear

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , flu symptoms can begin about two days after the virus enters the body. So while its possible that people caught the flu on board the 14-hour flight from Dubai to New York, its more likely that they were already sick when they boarded the plane.

The flu virus does mutate every year, and it may be that this is some new, fast-spreading strain of influenzabut I doubt thats the case, says Ian Sheffer, MD, assistant professor of medicine and infectious disease doctor at Drexel College of Medicine. I think these folks probably picked it up before they got on this plane, maybe on a previous flight or elsewhere in their travels.

Airplanes aren’t the only places with germs, after all airports, hotels, and tour busses can also be full of them. And because theres no routine screening to test people for illnesses before a flight, Hertzberg points out, theres no way of knowing if these passengers were already infected before they boarded.

Staying Safe And Stopping The Spread Of The Flu

We’ve learnt a lot about staying safe and healthy in the last year, but the seasonal flu is still a concern and the best way to prevent it is by getting your flu shot

In the past year we’ve learned a lot about how to stay safe and stay healthy.

We know to wash our hands properly and sanitize often to stay home.

If we don’t feel well and to keep our distance from others but even with these precautions, the seasonal flu is still a concern and the best way to avoid it is to get your flu shot.

Remember to make sure it’s at least two weeks apart from your covert 19 vaccine to truly protect yourself and the people you love this flu season.

Don’t forget your flu shot authorised by the Victorian Government Melbourne.

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When Should I Seek Medical Treatment

Children most likely to need medical treatment from their doctor for influenza infection are those who are very young or have serious medical conditions . If you think your child needs medical treatment, call your pediatricians office first. Your doctor may want to speak with you over the phone and recommend treatments rather than have you come into the office, where your child can infect other people.

How Is Influenza Transmitted

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The influenza viruses mainly are spread from person to person through droplets produced while coughing or sneezing. Droplets of an infected person are propelled by coughing, sneezing, and talking into the air and are deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby. This droplet transmission of the flu is known as contact transmission.

The influenza viruses can also be transmitted by indirect contact by touching a contaminated object or surface and then touching your own mouth, eyes or nose before washing your hands. This action is also called fomite transmission â a fomite is any surface or inanimate thing that can carry an agent after an infected person contaminated it by touching it or sneezing on it. Viruses can survive on surfaces â they live longer on hard, impermeable surfaces than on porous surfaces . The viruses can still be infective for two hours and maybe up to eight hours. It is easier to catch the common cold than influenza by fomite transmission because some of the “cold” viruses have much smaller infectious doses than the “flu” viruses.

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Exactly How The Flu Spreads According To Infectious Disease Experts

By now, youve probably memorized all the possible ways you can get COVID-19. So if youre feeling like a bit of an armchair infectious disease expert, you might be wondering how other illnesses in your life spread, like the flu.

Sure, youve known practically your whole life that good hand hygiene and doing your best to steer clear of people who are sick is a good way to lower your risk of influenza. But how does the flu really spread? Is the flu airborne or not? Heres what you need to know.

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