Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a flu virus. There are several types of flu viruses, including the type A and B, that circulate throughout the United States and the world every year. The flu isn't always thought of as a serious or life-threatening illness. However, because of the complications it can have on the elderly, children, and those with health problems, the perception of the flu and it's severity is changing.
It is estimated that 25 to 50 million cases of the flu are reported in the United States each year. Up to 20% of the population in this country becomes infected with the flu, leading to 150,000 hospitalizations and causing 30,000 to 40,000 deaths each flu season, which typically lasts from November to March. However, there are actions a person can take to prevent the flu.