Flu Basics

Flu Basics

Influenza, or “flu,” in humans is a highly contagious disease that is usually spread through droplets of moisture caused by coughing or sneezing. Flu is caused by various forms of virus. As the virus attacks our bodies, it causes any of a variety of symptoms, the most usual of which include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Runny Nose
  • Body Aches
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Extreme Fatigue

“Flu” season comes every year, usually in the winter. In the United States on average 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets the flu, 200,000 are hospitalized and 36,000 die from complications.

In 2009-2010, a new and very different flu virus (called 2009 H1N1) spread worldwide causing the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years.

Since 1997, the World Health Organization and many national health agencies have been monitoring the incidence of a particularly deadly form of avian flu known as H5N1. This form of influenza is currently spreading across the world’s bird population. While this flu has not had widespread human impact, it has killed more than half of those humans who have been infected. It is important to plan for the possibility that this form of influenza will become a more widespread human problem. Nationwide, states, communities, organizations and individuals have been urged to plan responses to a possible worldwide avian flu pandemic.