Flu is a viral infection affecting the lungs and airways. It spreads by people coughing infected droplets into the air or onto surfaces. Anyone can catch flu, but some people are at a higher risk, including older people and people with underlying health conditions. A flu jab for higher risk groups offers some protection against infection.
Flu symptoms can appear very quickly and include:
- sore throat
- aching muscles and joints
Ways to prevent flu
- good hygiene reduces the risk of catching flu or spreading it to other people, you should always:
- make sure you wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water
- clean surfaces such as your keyboard, telephone and door handles regularly to get rid of germs
- use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible
- the flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting flu each year, though it's not 100% effective because it doesn't work on every type of flu virus
Pandemics are a natural phenomenon, where a new influenza virus, which we have no immunity to, emerges and starts to spread as easily as normal flu. They occur from time to time, including three times during the 20th century. Pandemic influenza is one of the most severe natural challenges likely to affect the UK. Unlike seasonal flu, pandemic flu can affect anyone. Additional guidance will be is issued by Public Health England and the National Health Service if a pandemic flu outbreak is identified.
Further information can be found at www.nhs.uk and www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england