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Spread of the flu through the ACHOO

Julie Spierer, Special Features Editor

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“Similar to trends across the nation, Bucknell Student Health has seen an increase in the number of flu diagnoses over the past few weeks,” Melissa Allen, student educator in the University Health Center, said.

At only two and a half weeks into the spring semester, the University’s health center has diagnosed over 160 cases of the flu, based off of the patients’ reported symptoms and the physical manifestation of these symptoms.

The flu is a viral respiratory disease, and symptoms may include high fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches, and headaches. Patients typically recover over the course of two weeks. Since the flu is not bacterial, it cannot be cured with an antibiotic, but it can be treated with Tamiflu. Discomforts can be minimized through over the counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), along with plenty of fluids.

The flu shot is comprised of inactivated, or killed, viruses. The vaccination should not cause the receiver to develop the flu; however, it can, in some cases, cause flu-like symptoms to arise. In most cases, the vaccine will prompt the body to develop antibodies to fight off the flu. Additionally, there are different strains of the flu, which circulate each year.

Doctors recommend that individuals receive the flu shot annually, as the flu vaccine formula changes every year based upon which virus strains researchers anticipate will be most prevalent that season.

“Some of those diagnosed had received this season’s flu vaccine while others had not received the vaccine. Our experiences here have generally been that those who received the vaccine are appearing less ill than those who had not been vaccinated,” Allen said.

“Because I got the flu shot, I suppose my symptoms went away rather quickly and I did not suffer the flu as badly. I know a lot of people got it because the strains were not correct this year. So with a good amount of rest and medicine and fluids I was able to bounce back,” Logan Springer ’20 said.

College campuses are life-sized petri-dishes, where illnesses are extremely prone to spreading, as a result of close proximity, high social activity, and lowered immune systems that are moderated by increased stress, lack of sleep, and poor nutrition. School districts around the country have closed as a result of too many reports of influenza, and the fact that doctor’s offices are overwhelmed with ill patients.

The CDC reports that this is the first time in 13 years that all of the United States has been affected by the flu; every state, with the exception of Hawaii, has seen widespread cases of the illness.

“[The flu] was pretty bad, I was bedridden for a few days and was rather weak and tired for five. Luckily for me, when I went to the health center and saw the doctor, he immediate recognized my symptoms and he prescribed me Tamiflu and an excuse from classes and homework delays,” Springer said.

Allen reports that flu season typically runs into March, and she recommends that students receive a flu shot if they have not already this season. If you would still like this season’s flu vaccine, you may call 570-577-1401 to schedule an appointment with the University Health Center.

Aside from the vaccine, there are a myriad of other precautions to take in flu prevention. The list below contains some ideas from the health center.

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • If you are ill and must remain on campus, stay away from gatherings (class, performances or other events, dining halls, parties, the gym) until your temperature remains <100 degrees Fahrenheit without the use of fever-reducing medications for 24 hours. Communicate with professors about classes and ask a friend to secure meals, so you can remain in your room as much as possible.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
  • Frequently clean high-touched surfaces, such as door handles, desks, keyboards, phone, and gym equipment.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue. Promptly discard any used tissues and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • If feasible, go home to rest and recuperate.

“It’s awful being sick with the flu but so many people have reached out, and the health center has helped so much by contacting my professors and providing me with a really nice care package that had things like soup and tea,” Kotono Hamaguchi ’19 said.

 

Megan Lafond, Contributing Writer

 

The flu has spread farther than just the University’s campus: the flu has taken the entire nation by surprise with its expansive spread.

According to the Washington Post, “This year’s flu season is already the most widespread on record since health officials began keeping track 13 years ago.” Additionally, federal health officials have said that the flu has already caused more pediatric deaths than the average for at this point in the year. Experts do not know when the epidemic will begin to pass.

Children are especially at risk of contracting the virus. As of Jan. 26, CNN reported that 37 children have died as a result of the flu.

The story doesn’t end with the flu. Another virus is hitting the streets, and it is not just affecting people for a week; it can cause illness for an entire year. It’s called the adenovirus.

Adenovirus can not only cause longer lasting symptoms, but also more extreme symptoms than those of the flu. Unfortunately, most physicians are quick to assume these symptoms are flu-related because we are in peak flu season. As a result, the adenovirus can fly under the radar and cause significant problems.

“Unless you look for it, suspect it’s circulating, or are using diagnostic testing capabilities that can tell it apart, you are going to miss it, especially during flu season,” Adriana Kajon, infectious disease specialist at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, said.

In addition, adenovirus has 49 different strains, and the vaccine is available to the public.

If the flu circulating is not enough cause for alarm, the adenovirus should be. Moreover, the norovirus can also become a public health issue, with immune systems already stressed and vulnerable during this harsh winter flu season. We don’t need another nasty multi-symptom virus taking over campus any time soon.

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Spread of the flu through the ACHOO