Stay Healthy During Active Flu Season
There is widespread flu activity this year. Most states are recording heavy flu activity, including Georgia. The Georgia College Student Health Clinic has already diagnosed twice the number of cases diagnosed last year. Incidences of the flu started occurring earlier nationwide. Health Service saw numerous cases before the holiday break when normally they start seeing cases in January. As national news is reporting, this is a severe flu season.
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and at times can lead to death. Those at highest risk of complications are the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, and those with certain health conditions. One of the most serious complications is pneumonia. When a student is diagnosed with the flu, they are asked to leave campus and go to their home in order to mitigate spread of the illness to others. Anyone diagnosed with flu should stay home in order to prevent spread of the illness.
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year. It is not too late to be vaccinated this year and the clinic still has plenty of vaccine available. The vaccine is free for students and is $20 for faculty and staff. It is not necessary to make an appointment to get a flu shot. There are reports of some people getting the flu who received vaccine but having the vaccine onboard lessens the severity of the illness. The viral components of the flu change every year, thus the need for an annual flu shot.
Flu is a virus that is very contagious and is easily spread. The flu virus is spread by droplets from the respiratory tract when people talk, cough or sneeze. You can be infected with the virus from as far as
six feet away. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
To avoid this people should cover their coughs and sneezes and dispose of tissues appropriately. People should wash their hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Frequently exposed surfaces such as computer keyboards, desks, tables, and telephones should be cleaned frequently with antiseptic wipes or sprays.
•Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
•Runny or stuffy nose
•Muscle or body aches
•Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
There are antiviral medications available to treat the flu if started soon after symptoms occur. The antivirals can also be given as a preventative to the illness for those directly exposed from a known flu victim such as a household contact. These antiviral medications aim to lessen the severity of symptoms by about one day. Other treatment includes bed rest, plenty of fluids and fever reducers like Tylenol or ibuprofen. Antibiotics do not cure the flu but may be necessary if complications occur.
Protect yourself and others by following these suggestions. For additional information call the Student Health Clinic at 478-445-5288 or go the Center for Disease Control web site http://www.cdc.gov/flu