Autumn brings spectacular color across the Truckee Meadows
Autumn brings spectacular color across the Truckee Meadows

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What is Influenza (flu)?

Influenza (the "flu") is a severe, contagious viral respiratory disease. Influenza spreads rapidly to others through sneezing, coughing, or direct contact with the infected individual or their contaminated objects. Although many people refer to a bad cold as the "flu", or to an illness with nausea and vomiting as the "stomach flu," these illnesses are not really the "flu." For more information on the flu, read the CDC fact sheet.

District Health Department`s Influenza Surveillance Program

The Washoe District Health Department's influenza surveillance program is conducted year round. Goals of the program are to characterize the prevailing strains of influenza in the community, to measure the impact of the disease in the community, and to obtain and disseminate information regarding influenza activity to health care providers, the public, and those concerned with influenza control measures.

The influenza surveillance program consists of four major components:

  • Weekly reports of influenza-like illness (ILI) to the Communicable Disease Program by selected sentinel healthcare providers. Sentinel providers include hospital emergency rooms as well as private physician practices.
  • The collection of a limited number of specimens by sentinel health care providers from persons with ILI. The purpose of the laboratory confirmation is to verify which type of influenza virus is in the community.
  • Monitoring of influenza/pneumonia mortality through death certificates.
  • School nurses and healthcare providers other than the sentinel providers will be requested through the Epi-News to report perceived outbreaks of influenza in their settings.

The case definition for ILI is a fever >100ºF AND cough and/or sore throat (in the absence of a known cause). A patient with fever, chills, body aches, and nasal congestion but no cough or sore throat is not considered a case of ILI.

For more information on current influenza activity in Washoe County, check out the Influenza Surveillance Weekly Reports.