New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services
What You Should Know
Seasonal flu is a contagious illness that affects the nose, throat, lungs and other parts of the body. It can spread quickly from one person to another, can cause mild to severe illness, and, in some severe cases, can lead to death.
Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something - such as a surface or object - with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
The best way to prevent seasonal flu is by getting a flu shot or flu spray vaccination every year.
Signs and Symptoms of Flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and 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.
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 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Practice Good Health Habits
Good health habits may also help protect you against the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these six steps to prevent and control the spread of the seasonal Flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.