Flu Pandemics

In Texas, flu season typically begins in mid-October and lasts through April. On average one to five million Texans become ill with the flu each year. Your best defense is to get all your flu shots and to practice good hygiene habits:

How should Texans get prepared for a flu emergency?

Planning for a flu emergency is more important this year than ever. If outbreaks become severe, commercial and community activities could be disrupted for extended periods of time. That means you need to stock up on essentials now. Be sure to add these items that are specific to flu emergencies to your disaster supplies kit:

As you make your plans, consider the following situations:

Quick Facts about Flu:

What are the symptoms of flu?

Symptoms of flu come on suddenly, one to four days after a flu virus enters the body. These symptoms include:

Children also may have an ear infection, nausea or vomiting. Young children with flu can develop high fevers and seizures. Generally, people start feeling better after the body's temperature returns to normal, in about three days, and are ready to return to their normal activities in about a week. Tiredness and a cough may linger for several more weeks.

How do you get the flu?

Flu is very contagious. It can be caught from breathing in droplets in the air when someone infected with flu sneezes, coughs or talks. The flu also is spread when people touch something with flu viruses on it such as a doorknob or handrail, and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

What is a flu pandemic?

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic occurs when a new strain of flu to which people have little or no immunity emerges and spreads around the world.

How is flu prevented?

Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu. Other prevention practices include:

If you get sick, how is flu treated?

Antiviral medications such as Tamiflu® and Relenza® may reduce the severity of the flu. If you have flu symptoms call your health care provider and ask about getting a prescription. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol) will help reduce fever.

Who is most at risk for complications from the flu?

The flu can lead to pneumonia and other life-threatening illnesses in people with chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, kidney disease or diabetes. Others at higher risk include those with weakened immune systems, the elderly, the very young and pregnant women.

What’s the difference between the flu and a cold?

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Unlike flu, the common cold comes on gradually, rarely causes fever and is usually limited to a sore throat, coughing, sneezing and a stuffy, runny nose. In general, the flu is worse. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense and come on more suddenly. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations.

Learn more about flu at TexasFlu.org

SOURCE: Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)