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Influenza or the "flu" is a very contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus that mutates and changes every year.

Symptoms may include high fever, coughing, weakness, headache and general aches and pains which may last for five to 10 days.

Serious complications may include pneumonia and kidney failure. These may be life threatening.

Everyone is at risk of catching influenza.

Health Tip: Influenza virus can survive on unwashed hands for five minutes on clothing and tissues (e.g. Kleenex) for eight to 10 hours and hard surfaces, such as table tops or telephones, for up to two days. So remember to wash your hands frequently during the flu season at home and during travel.

Where Does Influenza Strike?

Influenza occurs around the world at different times of the year.

Prevention Tips

  • Vaccination against influenza is the most effective means for reducing the serious impact of influenza illness.
  • One injection will offer you protection against those virus strains contained in the current vaccine.
  • You can help protect yourself by washing your hands often with soap and water, and avoiding contact with people who are ill. The flu virus can survive for a number of days on surfaces or objects that an infected person touches.

Available Immunizations

Influenza vaccination is only effective for the current influenza season since the viruses are always changing. Therefore, vaccination is recommended every year for everyone 6 months old and older.

Vaccination should be considered for all travelers at high risk of influenza complications who plan on traveling to the tropics or the southern hemisphere from April to September, or who will be part of an organized tourist group. Especially if the group includes travelers from areas where influenza viruses are currently circulating.