What is Influenza?

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious and common respiratory illness caused by a virus.

How is it different from a cold?

Influenza causes more severe illness than a common cold, and can lead to severe health problems for some people. Influenza can also cause death in some of our most vulnerable populations.

How is influenza spread?

Most of the time influenza is spread from person to person by droplets or direct contact. When you sneeze, cough, talk, or sing, you spray droplets up to one meter (about three feet). The flu virus is also spread by touching a contaminated surface or kissing someone. The virus can survive on unwashed hands for 5 minutes, on tissues or clothing for 8 - 10 hours and on hard surfaces, such as tables or telephones, for 2 days.

When is the flu contagious (when can it be spread)?

Most adults can spread the flu virus from 24 hours before they have symptoms, and up to 3-5 days after their symptoms develop. Children and some adults may be contagious for seven or more days after the onset of symptoms.

How to protect against the flu

  • Get your flu shot
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve

What to do if you are sick, or a family member is sick

Stay home and avoid contact with other people until your symptoms are gone. If you are a person at high risk of flu-related complications, contact your health care provider. Tell them about your symptoms.

See a health care provider immediately if you develop any of these symptoms:

  • shortness of breath
  • fast or trouble breathing
  • pain in your chest
  • blueish or grey skin colour
  • bloody or coloured mucous in your mouth or spit
  • sudden dizziness or confusion
  • severe or ongoing vomiting
  • a high fever (39°C and above) that lasts more than 3 days

Tell your health care provider about your flu symptoms over the phone before your appointment. That way, they can arrange to see you without exposing other people to the virus.

Also see a health care provider if you are caring for a child who is sick with the flu and is:

  • not drinking or eating as usual
  • not waking up or interacting with others
  • irritable (not wanting to play or be held)

More flu and flu shot facts

Flu activity in our community

You can find out about the number of lab-confirmed flu cases at: Influenza Activity in our District page

North Bay

345 Oak Street West

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)