According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health:
• The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Its symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, fatigue, headache, runny or stuffy nose and muscle or body aches. A person may start experiencing those symptoms within 48 hours of exposure and the illness typically lasts three to seven days. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick.
• Flu viruses spread from person to person through unprotected coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching surfaces contaminated with flu viruses and then touching their mouth or nose.
• Flu is most common in children while complications are most common among the elderly.
• The recommended treatment includes rest, drinking plenty of liquids, avoiding the use of alcohol and tobacco, and taking over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms.
• The single best way to prevent influenza is to get a flu vaccination each year. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. The department of health also offers these tips for staying healthy in flu season:
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.
And if you get the flu, the department of health says stay home from work, school, and social gatherings.
Do not return to work or school until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of any fever reducing medication.