Flu (influenza) is an annual, viral disease causing respiratory illness.
How flu spreads
Most experts believe flu infections are spread by tiny airborne droplets that are produced when infected people sneeze, cough or talk. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people nearby. It is estimated that a forceful sneeze can spread droplets over 20 feet away.
Less often, hard surfaces such as door handles, toilet flushes, walls and desks can also harbour flu virus and it can then be spread to the person touching their nose, mouth or possibly their eyes.
Check if you have flu
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:
- a sudden high temperature of 38C or above
- an aching body
- feeling tired or exhausted
- a dry cough
- a sore throat
- a headache
- difficulty sleeping
- loss of appetite
- diarrhoea or tummy pain
- feeling sick and being sick
The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.
Could it be Coronavirus?
If you have a very high temperature, continuous cough and loss of sense of taste or smell, it could be Coronavirus. Most people can now get free lateral flow tests from the Welcome team at the airport or harbour in Alderney. The boxes contain 25 tests and you should test yourself twice a week especially if you have any flu like symptoms. Please do not go to the hospital or the IMC if you test positive, but give the Clinical helplines a call on 01481 220001 or 01481 220002. You can also give the surgery a call on 822077 and a clinician will call you back. A PCR test will be arranged for you but until you have a result back you must follow Public Health guidelines and stay at home. You should not receive visitors from outside of your normal household bubble.
Flu is very infectious and easily spreads to other people. You’re more likely to give it to others in the first 5 days.
Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading flu:
- wash your hands often with warm water and soap
- use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
- bin used tissues as quickly as possible
How to treat flu yourself
You are unlikely to need to see a doctor unless you become very unwell, such as with a chest infection, as flu is a viral illness which gets better on its own. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial, not viral infections and therefore are very unlikely to help. In fact they can make things worse by giving you unnecessary side effects such as diarrhoea or nausea.
The pharmacist at Boardman’s in Victoria Street can advise on best treatment for flu. Please ring rather than going into the shop to reduce the risk of passing on the infection. Tel number 01481 822126.
Treatment will include plenty of fluids, resting in bed, cough pastilles, sore throat soothers and paracetamol to bring the temperature down. Be careful not to use over the counter flu remedies if you’re taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets as it’s easy to take more than the recommended dose.
Preventing Flu outbreaks in small communities
Each year there are different strains of the viruses that cause flu. Vaccinations are the easiest and most effective way of reducing your risk of catching flu. The strain of virus that is considered to cause the majority of flu infections in a given year is used as the basis for the vaccine for that year. This does not mean therefore that you will not catch another strain of flu even if you have had the jab, but you will be protected against serious illness from the more likely strain circulating.This is even more important this year as we have lost most of our natural immunity to flu as there were very few cases of flu last year. In fact, Alderney did not record a single case of flu in 2020 and none so far in 2021.
In order to protect yourselves and your families from becoming seriously ill with flu or Covid this year, please take up your invitation to come and get your flu shot at the IMC. Our friendly and experienced team can’t wait to see you!
You cannot catch the flu from having the jab. Each year we hear lots of people saying they are convinced they got flu shortly after having the jab.
The flu vaccine given as a jab in the arm is made with inactivated (killed) virus or with a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal flu vaccine is made with live vaccine but it has been weakened (attenuated) so it cannot cause illness. You may get a sore arm and a slight fever for a few days, sometimes some aches and pains but this is your immune system producing the antibodies that will fight the flu should you catch it.
Catch it – use a tissue to catch your cough or sneeze.
Bin it – Germs can live for several hours on tissues or handkerchiefs, so dispose of your tissues safely as soon as possible.
Kill it – wash your hands or use sanitiser every time you cough or sneeze as your hands can spread germs to every surface they touch.
Children are particularly good at spreading these viruses as they do not always understand the importance of tissues and washing hands – you have to do it for them!