Influenza (flu) is a highly infectious disease caused by influenza viruses. The influenza virus attacks the respiratory tract (the ear, nose and throat).

Although most people recover from flu within a week, for some people the infection is more serious and leads to complications.

These illnesses may require treatment in hospital and can be life threatening especially in the elderly, people with heart or chest disease, reduced immunity and those in poor health.

How does it spread
The virus is mainly spread by respiratory droplets in the air produced by coughing or sneezing. You are at your most infectious within the first 5 days of becoming ill. The virus can live on hands and surfaces for around 24 hours. It can also be caught by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. That is why it is so important to clean surfaces within the home.

You should also sneeze or cough into a paper tissue to trap the germs and then discard it: “Catch it, bin it, kill it”.

Ensure you wash your hands with warm soapy water to reduce the risk of passing the virus on directly to family or friends.

For more information around signs and symptoms of flu please visit NHS Choices