Despite common misconceptions, influenza, or simply flu, is not just a common cold. It is a debilitating and potentially life threatening illness. In healthy people, influenza, despite being unpleasant, should clear up in the space of a week. It can, however, have a particularly serious effect on the most vulnerable in society, including the infirm and the elderly. Influenza also carries major risks for pregnant mothers and their unborn babies. But there are steps you can take to prevent contracting this illness, outlined below.

It is important to recognise that there are two types of influenza outbreaks; seasonal flu and pandemic flu. Whilst seasonal flu can be debilitating on a personal or family level, pandemic influenza has the potential to debilitate people on a much larger scale.