"The most common strain of influenza circulating in Victoria at the moment is type A.
"The flu is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications, including pneumonia.
"The flu isn’t like the common cold, it can hit quickly and last for a few weeks, meaning time off work or school and staying away from family and friends. Even healthy people can sometimes die from flu. For vulnerable Victorians, like young children, the elderly and people with a weakened immune system, the flu can have serious and devastating outcomes.
"The flu is spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes that contain the flu virus. The flu virus can live on any surface for almost 48 hours.
"Each year the flu affects thousands of Victorians and puts an enormous amount of pressure on our hospitals and health system. Over 3,500 avoidable deaths occur in Australia every year from complications of seasonal flu, including pneumonia.
The most common symptoms of the flu are the sudden appearance of a high fever (38°C or more), a dry cough, body aches (especially in the head, lower back and legs) and feeling extremely weak and tired (and not wanting to get out of bed).
Other symptoms can be chills, aching behind the eyes, loss of appetite, sore throat and a runny or stuffy nose.
"If you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, make sure you cough or sneeze into your elbow," the spokesman said. "It’s a part of your body less likely to touch other surfaces and will help stop the spread of the flu."
"Hands are one of the top spreaders of germs and viruses. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap at regular intervals throughout the day is a quick and easy way to help stop the spread of the flu.
"And most importantly, if you are sick, the best way to avoid spreading the flu is to stay at home. Avoid going to work and other places where you may spread the infection to others.”
For more information visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/flu