Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. Although epidemics of flu happen every year, the timing, severity, and length of the epidemic depends on many factors, including what influenza viruses are spreading and whether they match the viruses in the flu vaccine. Duirng 2009-2010 we saw the emergence of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (previously called "novel H1N1" or "swine flu"). This virus caused the first influenza pandemic (global outbreak of disease caused by a new flu virus) in more than 40 years. While not certain, it is likely that 2009 H1N1 viruses will continue to spread along with seasonal viruses.
Take everyday actions to stay healthy. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
Get Immunized. Vaccine is one of the most important layers of defense against the flu. Seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for everyone, starting at 6 months of age and is available through your usual doctor or health care provider.
Know the symptoms. The symptoms of flu are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with H1N1 flu virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.) To avoid making other people sick, keep away from others as much as possible.
Stay Informed - Stay up with the latest and most accurate information. Both Los Angeles County (http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/) have excellent websites with up-to-date information.