Influenza, more commonly known as ‘the flu’, is a highly contagious disease which can cause mild to severe illness and even death, particularly for those in the high-risk groups (the very young, the older population, those with an underlying health condition, those who are pregnant, overweight or who have a weakened immune system). Symptoms usually last between 3 and 7 days, although in some instances these can persist for several weeks. Recovering from flu generally takes one or two weeks, and sometimes more.
The virus spreads through water droplets, especially when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or via contaminated hands and surfaces.
Hygiene measures such as washing of hands, coughing into your elbow, and keeping your distance, are good habits to keep up, as they are effective in helping to reduce our chances of contracting and/or spreading the flu virus.
However, the vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself and others against flu, to prevent the spread of the disease and to reduce its severity. It is important to get a flu shot every year to keep up with the circulating variants of the influenza virus and thus avoid being bed-ridden or developing complications.