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Influenza-Like Illness Frequently Asked Questions

What is flu?

The flu (influenza) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs that is caused by influenza virus. The flu can spread from person to person. Most people with flu are sick for about a week, but then feel better. However, some people (especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems) can get very sick and some can die.

What are the symptoms of flu?

  • Fever (greater that 100°F / 38°C)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea

If you become ill and experience any of the following warnings signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fever and shaking chills
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Difficulty waking up or lethargy
  • Irritable
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough

How does the flu spread?

People that have the flu usually cough, sneeze and have a runny nose. This spreads droplets with virus in them. Other people can get the flu by breathing in these droplets or touching contaminated surfaces then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. The virus lives on surfaces about 8 hours.

Healthy adults may be able to spread the flu from 1 day before getting sick to up to 5 days after getting sick. This can be longer in children and in people who don’t fight disease as well (people with weakened immune systems).

How is influenza prevented?

Staying in your room or going home when you are sick, hand washing, and covering coughs are the best methods to prevent the flu from spreading.

Should I go to school or work if my roommate is sick?

Students who are well but who have an ill roommate or person at home with flu-like symptoms can go to school and work as usual. These people should monitor their health every day, and take everyday precautions including washing their hands often with soap and water, especially after they cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. If they become ill, they should notify their professors and/or supervisors and stay home. Those who have an underlying medical condition (see above) or who are pregnant should call their health care provider for advice because they might need to receive influenza antiviral drugs.

I have flu-like symptoms. Should I go see a doctor?

Most cases of flu-like illnesses on campus and in the community have been mild. Generally, healthy students with flu-like illness do not need to be seen by a medical provider. Instead, call 585.395.2414 and talk with a nurse. The nurse will assist you with home care instructions, isolation and answer your questions.

Students with chronic medical problems experiencing flu-like illness need to be seen by a medical provider. To obtain an appointment, please call a nurse at 585.395.2414 if you have any of the following medical problems:

  • Immunosuppression due to HIV / AIDs, chemotherapy, cancer, chronic steroid use
  • Pregnant women
  • Asthma or chronic pulmonary (lung) disease (e.g. cystic fibrosis)
  • Cardiovascular disease (e.g. congenital heart disease)
  • Chronic renal (kidney) or hepatic (liver) disease (e.g. nephritis, dialysis, chronic hepatitis)
  • Neuromuscular disorders (e.g. multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy)
  • Diabetes, adrenal insufficiency (e.g. Addison’s disease)
  • Hematologic (blood) disorders (e.g. platelet and clotting disorders)
  • Chronic rheumatologic disorder (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Gastrointestinal disease (e.g. Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis)

If your flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough, call the Student Health Center or your medical provider immediately.

Is there medicine to treat the flu?

The priority use for antiviral drugs is to treat people who require hospitalization or have a medical condition that puts them at high risk of serious flu complications. For most health adults, medication is not prescribed, but antiviral drugs are available that can treat flu. These drugs can make people feel better and get better sooner. But they need to be prescribed by a health care provider and they work best when started during the first 2 days of illness.

I think I had the flu and feel better now. Can I go back to work and school?

Persons should stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone (without using any fever reducing medication). Staying at home means that you should not leave your home except to seek medical care. This means avoiding normal activities, including work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.
This is an extremely important public health measure
that will help limit the spread of the flu virus.

Should I get vaccinated for flu?

CDC recommends a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three seasonal viruses that research suggests will be most common. 

Where can I get more information?

Other Useful Websites:
www.flu.gov
www.cdc.gov/flu

Last Updated 7/21/14

Events

FLU SHOTS
for STUDENTS
at the Health Center.
(Limited Availability)