Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract,usually affecting most people during the winter and early spring. Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, weakness, nasal congestion, dry cough, a sore throat, and often severe muscle aches. While there are generally no specific treatments for the flu other than rest, proper nutrition, and plenty of fluids, there are medications that are sometimes used to prevent flu from getting severeinhigh-risk patients who have been exposed but not vaccinated. Generally, the flu is not considered a dangerous disease, but serious complications may develop. The primary way to prevent the flu is to have a flu vaccination. The vaccine is available to anyone, but it is especially recommended for the elderly, those with serious chronic medical conditions, and those working in public health. It is given as a shot and should be done in the early fall, just before the flu season begins. The shot itself may produce some soreness and even a slight fever, but the side effects are generally minimal. Pregnant women and those with severe allergies, however, should consult with their doctor before being vaccinated. Consult your doctor or area health department for more information on flu vaccinations.