Influenza and Norovirus
Every winter seasonal illnesses like influenza ('the flu') and norovirus ('stomach flu') make people sick. This year influenza and norovirus are fairly widespread in certain parts of British Columbia. The good news is there are many things you can do to help protect yourself and family, as well as reduce the spread of flu and norovirus.
What is the difference between influenza and norovirus?
Influenza, or 'the flu' is a respiratory illness that affects the nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, aches and pains, headache and extreme fatigue. It can last up to two weeks, though some symptoms could last longer. While for most people it is a nasty inconvenience, influenza can be very dangerous for some people, including older people, the very young, people with chronic illnesses and people who have compromised immune systems. For more information regarding influenza check out the HealthLinkBC-influenza fact sheet.
Norovirus, or 'the stomach flu' is not a flu at all. It is a gastrointestinal illness that causes stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It is unrelated to influenza, and typically only lasts 24 to 48 hours. It is very rare to have complications or severe illness with norovirus infection. For more information regarding norovirus check out the HealthLinkBC-norovirus fact sheet.
How do I prevent myself from getting sick?
You should wash your hands several times throughout the day, and always after using the washroom and before eating or preparing food. Use warm water and soap, and scrub your hands for at least 30 seconds. If soap and water is not readily available, alcohol-based hand rubs can be used.
In addition to hand washing and other personal hygiene measures,the influenza vaccine will help prevent you from getting the flu. This year's flu shot includes the strain of influenza found in BC this winter.
It's not too late to get a flu shot!
The flu vaccine is still available by appointment at Health and Counselling Services. Free and paid ($20) vaccines are available.To determine if you qualify for a free vaccine please visit ImmunizeBC. For a full list of other clinics offering flu vaccinations go to www.health.gov.bc.ca/flu.
What do I do if I am sick?
The most important thing to do is stay home and rest. This will help you recover, and will help prevent the spread of both illnesses throughout the community. Influenza and norovirus will generally go away on their own, without the need for medical intervention.
In most cases, you will not need to see your doctor, but do seek medical attention if you experience difficulty breathing or other signs of severe illness. If you have questions or concerns you can call 8-1-1 to speak to a nurse, toll-free from anywhere in BC.
Try to avoid visiting hospitals or long-term care homes and stay home from work or school if you are sick - especially if you have not been vaccinated against influenza
For more information, visit: HealthLinkBC.ca
For more information or to speak with a nurse, call 8-1-1, toll-free, from anywhere in B.C.
Need to book an appointment at SFU Health and Counselling Services? View our appointment guide.
For information about obtaining a medical note for a missed class or exam visit our sick notes information page.