The flu infection rate on campus has risen by about 12 percent, say those in Student Health and Wellness Services. In addition, the number of students who have received the flu vaccination is down.
The 2013-2014 flu season is worse than last year’s so far, partly due to the extra cold winter. In North Carolina alone, there have been 44 flu-associated deaths, according to reports submitted by healthcare providers to the North Carolina Division of Public Health. Although the median age of receiving the flu this season is between 20-39, there have been numerous cases of infection in college students.
Dr. Faye Campbell, a physician of internal medicine who works at Health and Wellness and Presbyterian Medical Center in the intensive care unit, says that half of the patients there who have been diagnosed this year have such severe cases that they are on ventilators.
According to Jill Perry, director of student health and wellness services, and Campbell, the virus that is widely spreading around the world this year is the H1N1 flu virus, popularly referred to as swine flu.This strand of the flu caused a global disease outbreak in 2009. Even though the World Health Organization stated that the H1N1 virus was no longer a problem in August, 2010, the virus is still circulating.
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Flu symptoms consist of a fever, body aches, headaches, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue and a cough. Perry, clarifies students’ confusion on if they have the flu or not by saying “the flu is an upper respiratory infection. Many people automatically assume that if their stomachs hurt or they are vomiting, they have the flu, when really that is not the case.”
Cases of the flu typically occur between October-March, during what is considered the “flu season.” However, on occasion, cases of the flu can last until May, so if you have not gotten your flu vaccination, make an appointment with Health and Wellness to do so as soon as possible, advises Perry.
Perry and Campbell advise that whenever you begin feeling sick or are sick, be sure to contact your professors early and often – even if you just email them saying, “I have flu-like symptoms and am not feeling well. I am planning on visiting Health and Wellness. It may be nothing, but I wanted to inform you just in case”. There is no need to fall behind when your professors are always willing to work with you as long as you keep them up to date, they say.
They also advise students to be sure to hydrate, maintain nutrition and get a solid 8 hours of sleep in order to keep the immune system up and and help prevent future illnesses.
“It is so simple, but the consequences of not staying healthy can be monumental,” said Perry.