The flu virus commonly takes the lives of infants and the elderly. However, this year the United States is seeing pneumonia and influenza-related illnesses take the lives of people not in the expected age range and who seem healthy overall. The CDC statistics place this flu season’s mortality rates at 9.7%, which is above the epidemic threshold of 7.2%.
The flu is a deadly illness that the public needs to take seriously. If not properly treated, the influenza virus has the potential to rapidly spread across campus.
Patsy Malas, Campus Nurse, says the most important thing to know is that the flu is most contagious during the 24 hours after all symptoms have cleared. Knowing this can change the way the flu spreads.
Be cautious of your own body temperature, as that can help diagnose influenza. Higher than average temperatures range from 100°F to 104°F and can indicate illness. If you think you have a high temperature, the Brickley Center offers disposable thermometers so you can check. RAs are also equipped with thermometers.
Students who are diagnosed with the flu are encouraged to stay in their dorm rooms or go home. Malas says an effective preventative measure to stop the flu is isolation. If you are sick, do not fall to the temptation of visiting the cafeteria. Students feeling under the weather are allowed to give their ID to a roommate and have their roommate get them dinner.
Small children, such as those cared for at the Kinder Haus, are particularly at risk. Keeping yourself in isolation can prevent giving the flu to students who may work in the Kinder Haus or to commuter students that go home to young children.
There are many simple ways to prevent the spread of the flu once someone is diagnosed. Wash your hands to restrict the flu’s ability to spread from one surface to another. Utilize the hand sanitizer dispensers across campus for another barrier between you and the virus. Cover your cough and avoid covering your mouth with your hands; use your forearm instead. Coughing into a layer of fabric will inhibit the spread of germs.
Since the CDC says this season has been the worst flu season in the past decade, it is important to not only take care of yourself but others as well. Malas is an advocate of the flu shot. She says that since we are all involved in a Christian community, we need to think about the well-being of others. The flu shot will not only protect yourself against the flu, but it will protect the community. Common places to get the flu shot include CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens.
Malas is happy to help any student looking for guidance during this intense flu season. If you or someone you know starts to experience flu-like symptoms, Malas encourages anyone to reach out to the Brickley Center.