The flu, or influenza, is a common respiratory illness caused by a virus. It affects thousands of Canadians each year, mostly during flu season, which runs from November to April.
Like COVID-19, the effect on those who contract influenza is varied; they can have no symptoms, can get only mildly ill, or they can get very sick.
Flu symptoms, which are very similar to those of COVID-19, appear one to four days after exposure to the influenza virus. Usually, these symptoms include fever, cough, muscle aches and pains. Other common symptoms include headache, chills, fatigue, loss of appetite, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose.
Influenza is generally not a virus that affects the digestive system; however, some people, especially children, may experience diarrhea or nausea and vomiting because of the virus.
Also similar to COVID-19, there is a period where those infected with the influenza virus can spread it to others. Those infected with flu can spread it to others starting one day before the first symptoms show until approximately five days after the first symptoms. Most people recover from the flu in seven to 10 days.
While COVID-19 and influenza do share some similarities, they are not the same virus.
“Influenza is a serious illness and every year, it leads to deaths in Saskatchewan and Canada as a whole. But one advantage we have in terms of fighting the influenza virus is a vaccine – that’s something we don’t yet have for COVID-19. So I’m advising everyone to get their flu shot,” says Dr. Tania Diener of the Saskatchewan Health Authority. “We are also asking that if you feel ill, you stay home,” she added. “It doesn’t matter if what you have turns out to be COVID-19, influenza, or a simple cold – we can stop it from spreading to others if you simply limit your contacts.”
For information about flu season in Saskatchewan, including a list of flu clinics in your area, check out 4flu.ca and this influenza fact sheet from the Government of Saskatchewan. For more information regarding COVID-19, visit the Government of Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 site.