Information for the public

Flu is an illness caused by the influenza virus. It occurs every year, usually in winter. It’s important to protect yourself and others by preventing the spread of the virus and getting the flu vaccine if you are eligible.

How is flu spread

The flu virus is spread in the small droplets of saliva coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. If you breathe in these droplets, you may become infected.

Flu can also spread if someone infected with the virus touches:

  • common surfaces (such as door handles) with unwashed hands
  • the hand of someone else without washing their hands first.

Preventing the spread of the flu virus

You can take simple steps to stop the spread of the flu virus. Remember, you should always:

  • carry tissues
  • use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • dispose of the dirty tissues quickly
  • wash your hands regularly 
  • clean hard surfaces (such as door handles) frequently using your usual cleaning product.

Flu symptoms

The symptoms of flu often start suddenly and include:

  • fever
  • fatigue/unusual tiredness
  • headache
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath or a cough
  • loss of appetite
  • aching muscles
  • vomiting or diarrhoea.

Flu symptoms usually peak after two or three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days.

However, elderly people or those with certain medical conditions may develop complications that can lead to serious illness and can be life threatening.

That’s why it’s important to get the seasonal flu vaccine if it’s offered to you.