Influenza (flu) is a contagious lung disease caused by the influenza virus. This is a different virus than the one that causes COVID-19.
Anyone can get the flu
The flu is very contagious and spreads quickly and easily to other people. You may be passing the flu on to others before you even know you are sick. Flu symptoms usually appear 1 – 4 days after being around someone else with the flu.
Some people are at higher risk of health complications from flu
Anyone can get the flu, but it is most dangerous to people who are:
· Elders 65 years old or more
· Living with health conditions such as:
o cancer or other conditions that compromise the immune system
o heart disease
o kidney disease
o neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
· Pregnant or planning to get pregnant
· Living in long-term care homes
· Babies 6 months and younger
The flu can be serious
We are all at risk for getting the flu, but the flu will not affect us all the same way. Even healthy people may have serious problems from the flu. Complications such as pneumonia and respiratory failure are possible, and flu may also worsen existing chronic health conditions such as asthma. Flu may also trigger other serious complications such as inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues, and multi-organ failure.
Most people who get the flu will be better quickly, sometimes after only a few days or up to 2 weeks. However, some people will get very sick and need hospitalization. It can also be deadly – in Canada, on average, close to 3,500 people die each year of influenza. This is more common in people who are elderly and who are living with chronic diseases like diabetes.
Some common flu symptoms may appear suddenly, such as:
· Muscle aches and pain
Other common symptoms include:
· Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
· Loss of appetite
· Sore throat
· Runny or stuffy nose
Children may also experience diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.
Stay home if you are sick
Flu shares similar symptoms with COVID-19, making it difficult to tell them apart. If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, it is important to stay at home and to contact your local CMC or call the COVID-19 Info-line at 1-866-855-2811 to determine if you need a COVID-19 test.