The timing, severity and length of flu season vary from one year to another. Influenza viruses are most common during the fall and winter months and can continue to occur as late as May. Seasonal flu vaccines provide significant but incomplete protection that varies by virus subtype, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is why it’s so important to not only practice good hand hygiene but also to keep your home disinfected in hopes of preventing the illness from spreading.
While it is difficult to predict what this flu season will be like, surveillance of flu activity in other parts of the world often give epidemiologists an intelligent guess of what we can expect during our flu season. For example, Australia is experiencing a severe flu season with more than two and a half times more cases reported this year compared with the same period last year. Most cases have largely involved a highly infectious strain of influenza known as H3N2, which can cause more severe issues for older people and those with weakened immune systems.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat and lungs. Flu is different from a cold and usually comes on suddenly. The infection can cause mild to severe illness, and at times, can lead to death. Complications of flu can also lead to bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
The flu virus spreads mainly by tiny droplets made when infected people cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can stay suspended in the air and land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. This is especially important to watch out for as the weather begins to cool and people spend more time indoors with others. The flu can be contracted if a person touches a surface or object that has been contaminated with the influenza virus, and then touches their own mouth, nose or eyes. The flu virus can survive on some surfaces for up to 24 hours. It is important to disinfect your home if someone in your family contracts the virus.
The time from when a person is exposed to the flu virus, to when symptoms begin, is about 1-4 days, with an average of about two days. The period of contagiousness can occur before you know you are sick. Although people with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins, some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning just one day before symptoms develop.
You can keep your family happy and healthy by getting a high-level environmental disinfection for your home. Our process kills 99.999% of bacteria and viruses, is environmentally safe, utilizes products approved by the EPA for contact surfaces, and eliminates odor. GermBlast Service Technicians disinfect common touch points throughout the home that contribute to the spread of illnesses and infections, particularly the flu.