Don’t want the flu? Stop touching your face
‘Self-inoculation’ is a primary way that germs spread from contaminated surfaces to people’s faces, and from sick people to often-touched surfaces.
Flu outbreaks can begin as early as October! Learn more about how the flu works — and how to prevent it:
The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu is not the same as a cold, although they share many of the same symptoms. The cold is caused by a different virus, and it tends to have milder symptoms than the flu. Colds are also less likely to cause serious complications.
When the influenza virus gets into the body, it moves into the respiratory tract. Once there, it binds to the surface of cells. The virus then opens and releases its genetic information (RNA) into the cell’s nucleus. The nucleus is where the cell’s genetic information (DNA and RNA) is stored. The virus replicates, or copies itself, and takes over the functions of the cell. The copies of the virus move to the cell membrane until the cell finally dies and releases them out into the body, where they go on to infect other cells.
The respiratory tissues swell up and become inflamed (the inflammation usually heals within a few weeks). As the virus moves through the respiratory tract and into the bloodstream, the first symptoms begin to emerge. The replication process continues for up to several days, until the body’s immune system begins to fight the virus off.
Flu symptoms can include any or all of the following:
- Body aches
- Runny nose and congestion
These symptoms, although uncomfortable, are generally not dangerous. But the flu also weakens the immune system, leaving it vulnerable to more serious infections. High-risk individuals (see Who Is at Risk?) in particular are susceptible to serious complications.
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Mosquitoes, deer mice and pigs are making the headlines for a rash of recent disease outbreaks, but the animals closest to us can make us just as sick.
Are animal-borne diseases on the rise?
Deforestation, climate change and movement of people may be contributing to the rise of the hantavirus, Wile Nile and even the plague.
West Nile outbreak could be largest ever in U.S.
Most people infected with the mosquito-transmitted disease show no symptoms, making it likely that 98 percent of cases go unreported, says the CDC.
Shark molecule may wipe out human viruses like hepatitis
Research could lead to an injection that will fortify certain organs from viruses and diseases.
How Larry the snake helped advance Ebola research
Lucky breaks in research reveal that a deadly snake disease has similar properties to the Ebola virus, but it doesn’t pose a threat to humans.
Scientists unravel ‘other’ malaria parasite’s DNA code
The genetic codes of parasites responsible for the bulk of malaria cases outside Africa are diversified and may be harder to kill.