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What causes the flu?

The flu is caused by a virus. It’s different to the ones that cause the common cold and spreads when someone coughs up or sneezes out tiny droplets that contain the virus.

You can catch it from someone sneezing next to you on the bus, by kissing someone who has the virus, or by touching something someone else who has the virus has touched. It then enters your body through your mouth, nose or eyes.

The germs can live on your hands and other surfaces for 24 hours, which is what makes it so contagious.

To help prevent catching the virus, you should:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, or use anti-bacterial hand gel
  • Stay away from anyone you know has the virus whilst they’re ill, particularly if they’re coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible, as the germs get in through your mouth, nose and eyes
  • Use anti-bacterial cleaning products on surfaces in your home to kill of germs
  • Keep healthy - eat a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise
  • Have the flu vaccination

These won’t guarantee you won’t catch the flu, but may help reduce your chances.

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