Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by the influenza virus. The flu is more serious than the common cold.

Symptoms include:

  • rapid onset of fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • sneezing
  • running nose
  • sore throat
  • cough.

Most people recover within a week, although the cough and fatigue may last longer. The flu can be a serious illness, potentially fatal, particularly in people aged over 65 years of age or with a chronic illness.

Treatment of flu

The recommended treatment is rest, drinking plenty of fluids and use of paracetamol for the relief of pain and fever.

You should see your local doctor if you are concerned about the symptoms or if the symptoms are getting worse. Antiviral medication may be prescribed by your doctor if you are at risk of complications from the flu. Antiviral medication needs to be started within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms.

Antibiotics are not effective for treating the flu.

How to prevent the spread of flu

Simple ways to control the spread of flu are to wash your hands frequently, wipe over frequently touched surfaces with a cleaning cloth covered in detergent and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. See the Wash, Wipe, Cover...don't infect another for more information.


The best way to protect yourself from flu is to get vaccinated. An annual flu vaccination is recommended for any person from six months of age who wishes to reduce the chance of being ill with the flu.

Not sure if you want or need to get the annual flu vaccination? Our flu vaccination frequently asked questions can help you to decide. Questions cover why, who, when and effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

Fact versus fiction

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to flu. See our flu vaccination myths to help you to better understand the flu.

Are you pregnant and not sure about the flu vaccine?

If you're pregnant and not sure if the vaccine is safe see our frequently asked questions about the flu vaccine and pregnancy.

Campaign partners

The following organisations have provided support for the SA Health Flu vaccination advertising campaign, by distributing resources and promotional items to members of the public as well as ‘high risk’ groups, to encourage people to get a flu shot:

  • Asbestos Diseases Society
  • Asthma Foundation SA
  • Australian Medical Association (SA) Inc
  • Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch)
  • Country North SA Medicare Local
  • Country South SA Medicare Local
  • Northern Adelaide Medicare Local
  • Pharmacy Guild of Australia (SA Branch)
  • RDGP
  • RDNS SA Ltd

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