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Flu is a contagious illness caused by a virus which attacks the respiratory system. It has repercussions on the entire human body, including muscle pain, headache, and loss of appetite. Unlike the common cold, the flu can be incapacitating to the point where it prevents people from continuing with their normal daily activities.

Most people are exposed to this virus during the flu season. However, depending on a person’s immune systems, he or she might catch the flu while another person will not. During an outbreak you should wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose, which are the entry points for the most common flu viruses.

Immune systems can be strengthened in several different ways. Having a healthy diet, avoiding stress, and getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep are good preventative practices. In addition, many health experts recommend the flu vaccine as a source of protection.

Ideally, the vaccine should be given before the winter months, but it is never too late to be vaccinated, even during the flu season itself. The vaccine is particularly recommended for people at risk of catching the flu or who present a higher risk of complications, such as:

• children aged between 6 and 23 months;

• seniors;

• people with chronic illnesses (i.e. asthma, diabetes, heart disease);

• healthcare workers.

Studies clearly show that the flu vaccine reduces the frequency of hospitalization and medical consultations, and that it can prevent death from bacterial complications caused by the flu, such as sinusitis, bronchitis, bronchopneumonia, and pneumonia.

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