By Shahneel Ahmed

The flu is a contagious viral infection that can spread through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes, or talks. One can inhale the droplets directly, or the virus can be picked up from an object or surface, such as a telephone, or doorknob, and the virus can be transferred to the eyes, nose, or mouth where it can enter the body.

Flu viruses are most common during the Fall and Winter. Common symptoms include fever (101-102 degrees Fahrenheit), muscle/body aches, chills, and tiredness. These symptoms usually come on quickly. You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick. People who have the flu are usually most contagious during the first 3-4 days after their symptoms begin. Some adults may be contagious from one day before symptoms develop to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Young children and people with weakened immune systems might be able to infect others for even longer.

People infected with the flu virus can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting the annual flu vaccination. The vaccine is currently available as an injection and contains protection from three to four flu viruses that are expected to be the most common during that particular year. The flu vaccine; however, is not 100 percent effective. Washing your hands and containing your coughs and sneezes can help reduce the spread of the flu. Furthermore, those sick with the flu should stay home and away from others as much as possible to prevent the spread of the Influenza virus.

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