What is Influenza?

Influenza, or "the flu" is no stranger to us. It is a respiratory infection caused by a virus which spreads easily, sometimes leading to serious complications if left untreated.
Here are two common ways that "the flu" can be spread from person to person:
  • By breathing in droplets in the air which are released when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks
  • By touching a contaminated surface (i.e. door knobs, table tops)

Signs and symptoms

What is the difference between a common cold and influenza?
The common cold is usually mild, with a short period of running nose or cough. It usually goes away on its own without treatment.
Influenza symptoms however are usually more severe compared to the common cold and they include:
  • High Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • A stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Fatigue 
  • Body chills 
  • Nasal discharge

Learn about other common symptoms

Most adults with the flu virus are infectious even before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may carry the virus for more than 7 days.
Places where the flu virus is more likely to spread include social environments like schools, the workplace and even at home. To create a healthy and conducive environment where our family, friends, colleagues and community can be safe from the threats that the flu brings, it is important to practice good social hygiene.

Remember: when it comes to flu, sharing is not caring!

So keep these five things in mind, to keep your loved ones safe from this nasty virus.


Your hands may frequently come in contact with contaminated surfaces which have been exposed to germs. It is important to wash them regularly and thoroughly with soap to maintain good hand hygiene. If soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitisers are good alternatives.

Wash your hands:
  • Before and after meals
  • Before handling food
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing your nose
  • After touching shared surfaces like tabletops, doorknobs, handrails, etc
If washing facilities are not readily available (during travelling), use a hand sanitiser to maintain hand hygiene.


The flu vaccination is strongly recommended for:
  • The elderly and their caregivers
  • Very young children aged 6 months to 5 years
  • People with low immunity (e.g. on cancer treatment) or chronic diseases such as diabetes
Pregnant women, healthcare workers and travellers will also benefit from the flu vaccine. Unless contraindicated or advised otherwise, it is also recommended to go for flu vaccination to protect yourself from the various flu viruses.
If you are travelling, it is recommended that you vaccinate 2 weeks before leaving the country.
The flu vaccination is easily available at all polyclinics and most private clinics. Ask your doctor for more information.
To learn more about vaccination subsidies and if you and your loved ones are eligible for them, click here.


If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, seek treatment early, and wear a mask until you have recovered.
Learn how to take your temperature correctly.


If you are unwell, rest at home. Avoid school, work, hospital visits and crowded places to prevent the spread of the virus to others. Take a breather from strenuous physical activities like running and jogging.


If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, always put on a mask. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This prevents the release of respiratory droplets into the air, protecting your loved ones close to you. Dispose of the used tissues in a covered dustbin and wash your hands after doing so.
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