Influenza (also known as the flu) is a respiratory illness caused by flu viruses that can spread easily from person to person. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms usually are fever and cough and/or sore throat. Symptoms may also include headache, extreme tiredness, runny or stuffy nose, or muscle aches. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur, especially in children.

A flu vaccine is prepared yearly based on which strains of influenza are anticipated to be the predominant ones circulating. Vaccination doesn't guarantee someone won't get the flu, but it has been found to reduce the likelihood of becoming seriously ill from the flu.

Most healthy adults may infect others 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Young children and those with weak immune systems can be infectious longer.

Washing hands correctly —using soap and water and washing for at least 20 seconds— is an important step in staying healthy.

Vaccination is considered the best defense against the flu. CDC advises those over 6 months old to get vaccinated each year.

Important Testing Documents

Outlines how to properly collect an influenza specimen for testing.
Form for submitting a specimen to the WV Office of Lab Services for testing.

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