Influenza is a contagious disease that may be prevented by immunization. It is caused by a virus that affects the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs). Influenza symptoms come quickly in the form of fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. Seasonal influenza is typically seen during the winter months in Wisconsin and is not the same as pandemic influenza or avian influenza (bird flu). H1N1 flu (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs.
Each year the seasonal influenza vaccine changes based on surveillance and estimates of which type and strain will circulate. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop and protect your body against the flu. Anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting flu should be vaccinated.
It is recommended that all people 6 months and older get a flu shot. Certain people are at higher risk of complications from the flu. Those people include children age 6 months to 18 years, pregnant women, people 50 years and older, anyone with chronic medical conditions, and people who live in nursing homes.
The best way to protect yourself from getting the flu is to practice good hygiene, get your flu shot each year, stay home when you are sick, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
You do not need an appointment for a flu shot at the Forest County Health Department. Community wide flu clinics will be held each fall.
For more information, see the CDC’s page on Influenza.