Survey: Tell us what you think!
Cool Facts About the Flu
Flu Survey: flu index | flu facts | school
month | map | time line warper | remedies
The flu is passed from one person to another through germs we release when we cough or sneeze. It spreads very quickly in crowded areas (like schools and offices), so you might notice that people you know are all sick around the same time. People get the flu most often during colder times of the year.
The flu is an infection that is caused by lots of different nasty viruses. A virus is a tiny particle that multiplies and makes you sick.
How do you know if you have the flu? Your body gives you lots of clues called symptoms. Some symptoms of the flu include a fever (between 101-104 degrees Fahrenheit), headache, body aches, chills, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, and exhaustion. In short, you feel pretty darn lousy.
Approximately 35 million Americans, including a lot of ZOOMers, get the flu every year. Check out "Flu Got You Where?" to see if ZOOMers in one region missed more school than ZOOMers in other regions.
The flu often occurs in epidemics. An epidemic is an outbreak of a sickness that affects a large number of people in a particular region.
The word "influenza" means "influence" in Italian. A long time ago, many people believed that the stars influenced the start of an epidemic.
There have been many flu epidemics, but one of the most serious happened in 1918-1919. It was so widespread that it is also called a "pandemic." A pandemic is an outbreak of a sickness that affects a large number of people worldwide. From the spring of 1918 to the spring of 1919, a particularly nasty form of the flu spread around the world. Over 20 million people died, including 12 million people in India and 600,000 people in the United States.
During the 1918-19 pandemic, people tried lots of different things to fight off the flu, as well as remedies to help them feel better when they got it. These included spraying public streets with chemicals, wearing face masks, washing inside the nose with soap and water, and eating large amounts of porridge. None of these seemed to work very well!
Flu vaccines have helped to make flu epidemics much less serious. But it wasn't until 1945 that we had a flu vaccine that actually worked - some of the time! Flu shots today work about 70% of the time, either preventing the flu or in making symptoms less icky. Getting a flu shot is most often recommended for older people and people who have other health problems that could be made worse by the flu.
Since flu viruses can change form, new vaccines are constantly being made. There's a really big organization, the World Health Organization, that keeps constant track of any changes in the flu so that scientists can work to make effective vaccines. Even so, the effects of a flu shot can wear off so most people get a new flu shot every year.
Today, the most common flu treatments are lots of bed rest and medicines to lessen some of those nasty flu symptoms. Today, people use lots of different remedies to make themselves feel a little less miserable, including cough syrups, pain relievers, hot tea with lemon, and even laughter. Oh, and lots of chicken soup! Find out what makes other ZOOMers feel better in the Got Remedies? section.
While there is still no cure for the flu, scientists are working to find new and better ways to deal with it. Right now, they're currently exploring a single vaccine that will work on lots of different forms of the flu and a vaccine that is given through the nose so that people won't have to get shots!