Flu: a Serious Infection
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection. It is caused by an influenza virus and spreads very easily.
The flu in Québec generally runs from December to March or April. However, sometimes the season begins earlier or lasts longer.
Even though they are inconvenienced by the flu, most people in good health get over the flu by themselves. Other people are at risk of developing complications leading to hospitalization or even death.
The flu virus likes cool, dry environments. It spreads when people are in close contact. Certain circumstances lend themselves to this contact, such as living under the same roof, caring for a sick person, and frequenting public places.
The flu virus is highly contagious.
- The virus is transmitted in droplets from the nose and mouth of an infected individual when he or she coughs or sneezes.
- Infection can occur as the result of contact with an infected person, such as by kissing or handshaking, or with an object contaminated by such person, such as a tissue, handkerchief, pencil, or dish.
- It can also occur after touching contaminated hard surfaces and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes. Hard surfaces include table tops, desktops, telephone handsets, door handles, handrails, and computer keyboards, on which the virus can survive for up to two days.
After being infected with the flu virus, you may be contagious
- 24 hours before symptoms begin
- Up to 7 days after symptoms begin and perhaps longer in the case of children
Contagiousness is highest, however, during the first three or four days after the onset of symptoms. To avoid infecting others, start the necessary precautions as soon as symptoms appear or if you think you might be infected.
Colds, which are a more mundane respiratory infection, are often mistaken for the flu.
Temperature between 38°C and 40°C (between 100.4°F and 100°F)
Lasts 2 to 5 days
Lasts about 1 week
|Usual, but mild or moderate|
|Headache||Usual, sometimes severe||Rare|
|Aches and pains||Usual, sometimes severe||Rare|
Lasts a few days, occasionally longer
|Usual, but mild|
|Nausea and vomiting||Usual, especially in children||Rare|
|Nasal congestion and discharge||Rare||Usual|
|Chest pain||Usual, sometimes severe||Usual, but mild to moderate|
*Symptoms can vary based on age and fitness.
If you have flu symptoms, you can call Info-Santé 8-1-1 or see a doctor, depending on the seriousness of your symptoms. To avoid infecting others, it is important that you follow the instructions from Info-Santé or your doctor.