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Are you at risk of getting the flu without knowing it?

07th Nov, 2018

Are you at risk of getting the flu without knowing it?

According to The King's Fund, the last flu pandemic, back in 2009, resulted in 500,000 deaths around the world. 

Of all the occupations most susceptible to the flu virus, those in healthcare jobs remain at the very top. A mild flu season could infect up to a quarter of frontline staff, with 59 per cent unaware of the infection and potentially infecting others, including their vulnerable patients.

Not all flu carriers experience symptoms

We've all heard plenty of flu horror stories from those around us; it's a virus regularly confused with the common cold (typically by people who have never experienced flu). However, unlike the common cold, flu comes with a whole host of nasty symptoms, including high fevers, body aches, exhaustion, loss of appetite, nausea, sickness, diarrhoea and headaches.

If you've not been experiencing any of the above, you're probably assuming that you don't have flu, but some carriers can spread the virus before experiencing any symptoms. Others can carry the virus but don't get sick at all!

Who is most at risk from flu?

Whilst the sick, elderly and pregnant are most at risk, perfectly healthy people can develop serious complications from the illness, such as secondary bacterial pneumonia, encephalitis and meningitis, and potentially lose their lives.

How can you prevent the spread of flu?

Coughing, sneezing and even just talking can help the flu virus to spread from as far as 6 feet away. You have a duty of care to protect patients and colleagues, which is why all healthcare workers are advised to consider getting the flu vaccine.

You can have your NHS flu vaccine at:

  • Your GP surgery
  • A local pharmacy offering the service
  • Your midwifery service if they offer it for pregnant women

To help prevent flu and its transmission, you should also maintain good hand hygiene in and out of the workplace. Ensuring you eat well, rest well, exercise regularly and manage your stress will also help your body to fight the virus, so you can stay healthy.

Most importantly, if you feel ill, STAY HOME. You can remain contagious for up to 7 days after the onset of symptoms. Whilst at home, make sure to clean all shared surfaces you come into contact with, including keyboards, doorknobs, telephones and remotes.

For more information regarding the vaccine please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/