The Flu (Influenza)

This information explains the flu (influenza), including how it’s spread and how you can decrease your risk of getting it.

The flu is caused by a virus that affects your respiratory system (your nose, throat, and lungs) and can cause infection. It can be serious for people living with cancer or other diseases and for those with weakened immune systems.

What are the signs of the flu?

  • Fever (a temperature above 100.4° F (38° C), or as directed by your healthcare provider)
  • Sore throat
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Body aches
  • Tiredness and general discomfort
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How does the flu spread?

The flu spreads through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of someone who is infected. The droplets carrying the virus are released into the air when the infected person coughs or sneezes. They can easily be inhaled (breathed in) and cause an infection.

The flu can also be spread when droplets fall onto furniture, equipment, or other surfaces. If someone touches the surface and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes, they may become infected.

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What isolation precautions are taken in the hospital if I have the flu?

Isolation precautions are steps we take to stop infections from spreading from person to person. If you have the flu while you’re in the hospital:

  • You will be placed in a private room.
  • A sign will be posted on the door instructing all staff and visitors to clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before going into and after leaving your room.
  • All staff and visitors must wear a mask, yellow gown, and gloves while in your room.
  • If you leave your room for tests, you must wear a mask, yellow gown, and gloves.
  • You will not be able to walk around your unit, or go to the following areas of the hospital:
    • Pantry on your unit
    • Recreation center on M15
    • Pediatric recreation areas on M9 and the Pediatric Day Hospital
    • Cafeteria
    • Main lobby
    • Any other public area of the hospital
  • While following these precautions, you can have art or massage therapy in your room.
  • You can stop following these precautions when you can no longer pass the infection to others.


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I have the flu. What should I do when I go to my outpatient appointments?

  • When you check in for an appointment, please let the receptionist know if you have any signs of the flu, such as a cough, runny nose, or sneezing. They will bring you to a private room, where a nurse will ask you more about your symptoms.
  • If you have signs of the flu, please do not sit in the waiting area, eat in the cafeteria, or visit patients who are staying in the hospital.
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What can I do to lower my risk of getting the flu?

  • Get the flu vaccine every year.
  • Ask family members and close friends to get the flu vaccine.
  • Always cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, not into your hand.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not share items such as cups, drinking glasses, food utensils, or toys.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu symptoms.

Antiviral medications can help prevent or reduce the severity of the flu. However, they do not take the place of the yearly flu vaccine.

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