It’s that time of year again: flu season.
The flu, also known as influenza, is a virus that mainly affects the upper respiratory system, like your nose, your throat and your lungs. The flu is spread by droplets, from either coughing or sneezing. Every year, people are sent to the hospital and some even die from complications of influenza.
One of the best ways to prevent yourself from getting the flu is to get the flu vaccination. A new vaccine is developed annually to fight off the strains that were circulating the previous flu season.
Most people may be able to infect others one day before their symptoms even develop and can infect someone five to seven days after becoming sick.
A flu sufferer is likely to experience some or all of the following signs and symptoms: fever, feeling feverish, experiencing chills, a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches and headaches. The flu can also bring on fatigue as well as vomiting and diarrhea. If you do experience some or all of these symptoms, then you should make an appointment with the Health and Wellness Center. At the Wellness Center, they have Rapid Flu Kits, which allows the doctor or nurse who performs the test to tell whether or not you have the flu or not within five minutes.
There are some simple tips that can be used to help prevent you from contracting influenza. Wash your hands regularly. Do not drink out of someone else’s glass. If you can’t sneeze or cough into a tissue then cough or sneeze into your elbow. Wipe down any of your electronics before and after using them and wash your hands before eating any meal.
In the fall semester, about 250 people received flu shots from the Health and Wellness Center. The Wellness Center received about 100 more doses of the vaccine for the spring semester. On Feb. 5, the Health and Wellness Center sponsored a flu clinic.
As of Feb. 4, Dolores Hess, the director of the Health and Wellness Center, reported that there have been two cases of influenza on campus. If someone does get the flu, it is recommended to stay home until fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol or Motrin. If someone catches the flu and is unable to go home, then he or she should be quarantined until 24 hours have passed without a fever.
The “Flu Buddy Form” is also available, which would allow a friend to get meals for the sick student using the infected person’s meal plan. If the sick person’s roommate does not wish to stay in the room while their roommate is sick, they should contact the housing department to request assistance.
To find out more information about the flu in Pennsylvania and in Berks County, log onto http://www.health.state.pa.us. This website allows you to track the flu by county in Pennsylvania and it allows you to see different statistics about the flu. The website is updated every Tuesday.
The best time to get vaccinated is early in flu season when vaccines first become available. It is almost spring time but there is still a chance to get a flu vaccination today. To receive a flu shot, log onto the Health and Wellness Center’s website to make an appointment or call at 610-683-4082.
By Samantha Biastre