The flu (influenza) is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by the influenza virus.
In most people, the flu is uncomfortable, tiring, and can keep you bedridden for many days. In seniors, young children, and people with chronic (long-term) lung diseases like asthma and COPD, the flu can be more serious. Each year the flu causes 500- 1500 deaths in Canada, possibly more.
What causes the flu?
The flu is caused by the influenza virus. There are different strains (kinds) of influenza virus, and they generally cause the same symptoms.
Is the flu contagious (can you catch it)?
Yes. The flu is easy to catch, and easy to spread to other people.
The most common way the flu is spread is through flu germs on people's hands. Flu germs can survive for up to 48 hours on some surfaces. If you touch something with flu germs on it, then touch your face or mouth, you could get infected.
Flu germs can also travel through the air. If a person with the flu sneezes or coughs, their respiratory droplets (spray) can carry the virus to your nose, mouth and/or eyes. Then you can get the flu germs.