card
372

influenza

OLogy Series
biology
card
372

influenza

OLogy Series
biology

It started with a cough and stuffy nose. But now you're achy, feverish, and exhausted. You just might have influenza, or the flu. Influenza is a type of virus - a microbe that invades plant and animal cells to survive. The flu virus infects your nose, throat, and lungs. It's also very contagious, which means the virus can travel quickly from person to person in your home, your school, and even around the world!

How often do doctors recommend that you get a flu shot?

once, with a single vaccination

whenever you start to feel symptoms

every year

Are you right?

Correct!

You have the flu virus (and can pass it on) before you have symptoms. Unlike smallpox and polio, influenza can't be prevented with a single vaccination because the virus changes all the time. An annual flu shot is the best way to protect yourself.

When you sneeze, cough, or talk, you spread droplets of saliva and mucus into the air. And the flu virus catches a ride! Where should you sneeze or cough if you don't have a tissue?

into your elbow

into your hand

into the air

Are you right?

Correct!

If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands. Your hands could just spread the virus to the next thing you touch.

Antibiotics are effective treatments for viruses like the flu.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Antibiotics kill bacteria, so they don't fight infections caused by viruses like the flu and the common cold. In fact, overusing antibiotics can cause bacteria to become resistant.

The exact same virus can infect a bird, a pig, and a human.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

People can't be infected by a bird virus. But pigs can be infected with both bird and human viruses. So if a bird flu virus spreads to pigs, it can mutate into a kind that can then spread to humans.

Once you fight off a particular flu virus, it can't make you sick again.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Your body builds up antibodies for each flu virus, so it can't attack again. The bad news is, viruses can change or mutate very quickly. That means there's usually a new flu virus every year.

Description: a virus that causes a respiratory illness known as the flu
Symptoms of the flu: fever, achy muscles, tiredness, sore throat, cough, stuffy or runny nose
Spread: through drops of saliva and mucus spread by coughing, sneezing, talking, and touching
Treatment: rest, fluids, over-the-counter products for symptoms
Cool Fact: A strong sneeze can spread the virus to someone six feet away!

Image credits: © C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish, CDC.