Influenza (Flu) in Arizona

Flu Basics

What is Influenza (also called Flu)?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.

Every year in the Arizona, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 4,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications; and
  • about 700 people die from flu.

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Flu Symptoms

Symptoms of flu include:

  • Fever (usually high)
  • Headache
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults

Flu Complications

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications that can be very severe.

Complications from the flu can lead to hospitalization and even death. Flu can make chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, worse. Healthy individuals with no chronic medical conditions may suffer from complications such as pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections or sinus infections that require additional medical treatment.

How Flu Spreads

Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person by the droplets produced when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Sometimes, people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults can infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

What should I do if I get sick?

  • Stay home from work or school, and rest
  • Drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids
  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with fever and body aches
  • Wash your hands often to protect other people
  • Avoid getting close to other people, especially when coughing or sneezing
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

When should someone with influenza see a doctor?

  • For serious problems, including:
    • When a high fever (more than 101° F) lasts more than 3-4 days
    • When you are so sick that you or your family cannot take care of you at home
    • Extreme dizziness
    • An adult not able to take fluids for 24 hours
    • An infant who is not taking fluids and is starting to get dehydrated (not wetting diapers)
  • Not everyone with influenza needs to see a doctor. Most people get better just with rest and fluids.

What can the doctor do to help?

  • May start antiviral medicine for people at high risk for complications from influenza (such as heart or lung problems or a weakened immune system, people more than 65 years old, or infants)
  • Decide if you need additional medicines
  • Decide if you need intravenous fluids or hospitalization

When should someone go to an emergency department?

  • Having trouble breathing
  • Being confused or incoherent
  • Having a seizure

For these problems, take the ill person immediately to an emergency department, or call 911.

Preventing the Flu: Get Vaccinated!

The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination. ADHS and CDC recommend a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.

See the Flu Vaccine page for more information on flu vaccinations.