Fighting the Flu

The New Year brought some people love, happiness or a fresh start, but for others, the flu. The flu is usually a problem during the winter months, but this year’s illness is one of the worst flu seasons officials have seen in years.

During Oct. 2012, the Center for Disease Control released a flu report stating that the flu activity was low nationwide.  However, by the second week of 2013, the CDC stated that 48 states reported widespread geographic influenza activity. This startling statistic brings up the questions “How safe am I?” and “How can I prevent it?” These are common questions for people who are in constant contact with other people, especially on college campuses.

The flu is especially prominent this year because of how quickly it spread and how early it started, and it has been officially named an epidemic by the CDC. In Georgia, however, and more specifically on the University of West Georgia’s campus, the flu is just another illness at the Health Center. “They’ve seen quite a few cases, but it’s not an alarming or even necessarily unusual number,” said Elizabeth Butts, Health & Wellness Promotion Coordinator. “It is concerning because college campuses are kind of the prime breeding ground to spread viruses and infections because students live so close together,” said Butts.

The close corners make students more vulnerable to sickness. “One of the things that can help the most is if students don’t go to class sick if they have a fever because it’s going to spread more rapidly,” said Butts. If you’re worried about missing class, health services does provide a system where they will email your teachers to let them know you legitimately have the flu. “One reason students are more vulnerable is that they don’t sleep enough and they don’t eat well, and their general immunity is based on good sleep and controlling their stress in a positive way,” said Butts.

Another reason the flu spreads quickly is because people think they have a cold and stay at home rather than taking the precautionary steps by going to the doctor. “If a student starts to have some of those symptoms, and if they get to health services early, they can give them a flu antiviral similar to Tami Flu. If it is administered within the first 24 to 48 hours, then it can shorten the duration of the flu two to three days, so it’s worth it,” said Butts. Something students need to keep in mind is that they pay for health services through mandatory fees so they have doctors and nurses, and can get the flu antiviral for free. One of the free services to students is a flu shot, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not too late to get one. Health services still have over 100 flu shots free to students, and $15 for faculty/staff.

Using common sense and detecting early can help students prevent and fight off the flu. “The more stressed you are, the more vulnerable your immune system,” said Butts.  “Washing your hands, that can’t be emphasized enough. Like we used to say in elementary school, say your ABCs while you wash your hands.”



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