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Flu Facts for Visitors to Duke Hospital

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

With the advent of flu season and the national shortage of
vaccine, Duke Hospital is stressing the importance of
preventive measures to ensure the safety of our patients and
employees and limit the spread of influenza. If you are
symptomatic for the flu including headache, extreme fatigue,
dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches,
vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, please do not
visit a patient in Duke Hospital.

Visitors will be screened for the presence of flu symptoms
prior to entering the patient care areas. While, we realize
that this request may cause extreme inconvenience to you and
your family, we need your cooperation to protect our patients,
including your loved ones, from this highly infectious
illness.

For additional questions contact the charge nurse on each
unit.

Key Facts About the Flu

About Flu

Influenza (commonly called the flu) is a contagious
respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Infection with
influenza viruses can result in severe illness and
life-threatening complications. An estimated 10% to 20% of U.S.
residents get the flu each year: an average of 114,000 people
are hospitalized for flu-related complications and 36,000
Americans die each year from complications of flu.

Symptoms of Flu

Symptoms of flu include fever (usually high), headache,
extreme fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose,
and muscle aches. Gastro-intestinal symptoms, such as nausea,
vomiting, and diarrhea, are much more common among children
than adults.

Spread of Flu

Influenza viruses spread when a person who has the flu
coughs, sneezes, or speaks and spreads virus into the air,
which othes inhale. When these viruses enter the nose, throat,
or lungs, they begin to multiply, causing symptoms of the flu.
The viruses can also be spread when a person touches a surface
with flu viruses on it (for example, a door handle) and then
touches his or her nose or mouth. A person who is sick with the
flu can spread viruses, which means they are contagious. Adults
may be contagious from 1 day before developing symptoms to up
to 7 days after getting sick. Children can be contagious for
longer than 7 days.

Preventing Flu

Vaccination: The single best way to prevent
the flu is to get vaccinated each fall. In the absence of
vaccine, however, there are other ways to protect against
flu.

Antiviral Medications: Three antiviral
drugs (amantadine, rimantadine, and oseltamivir) are approved
and commercially available for use in preventing flu. All of
these medications are prescription drugs, and a doctor should
be consulted before the drugs are used for preventing the
flu.

Other Habits for Good Health

The following steps may help prevent the spread of
respiratory illnesses like flu:

Avoid close contact
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you
are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from
getting sick too.
Stay home when you are sick
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands
when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching
your illness
Cover your mouth and nose
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or
sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting
sick.
Clean your hands
Washing your hands often will help protect you from
germs.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or
mouth
Germs are often spread when a person touches something
that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her
eyes, nose, or mouth.

Diagnosing the Flu

Tests are available that can
determine if you have the flu as long as you are tested within
the first 2 or 3 days after your symptoms begin. In addition, a
doctor’s examination may be needed to determine whether a
person has another infection that is a complication of the flu.

At Special Risk of Complications From Flu

Certain
people are at increased risk for serious complications from the
flu. This group includes people age 65 years and older and
people of any age with chronic medical conditions. Pregnant
women and children between 6 months and 23 months of age also
are at increased risk from flu complications.

Complications From Flu

Some of the complications caused
by the flu include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and the
worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive
heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Children may get sinus
problems and ear infections.

Treating the Flu

Antiviral Medications: Four antiviral
drugs (amantadine, rimantadine, zanamavir and oseltamivir) have
been approved for treatment of the flu. All of these must be
prescribed by a doctor. Antiviral treatment lasts for 5 days
and must be started within the first 2 days of illness.

What to Do If You Get Sick This Flu Season

If you
develop the flu, it is advisable to get plenty of rest, drink
lots of liquids, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. Also, you
can take medications to relieve the symptoms of flu (but never
give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like
symptoms, and particularly fever, without first speaking to
your doctor.) If, however, your flu symptoms are unusually
severe (for example, if you are having trouble breathing), you
should consult your health-care provider right away.

If you are at special risk from complications of flu, you
should consult your health-care provider when your flu symptoms
begin. This includes people 65 years or older, people with
chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, or children. Your
doctor may choose to use certain antiviral drugs to treat the
flu.

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