Winter study has seen a severe outbreak of the flu on campus, and the end is not in sight. Although they did not provide exact numbers, Health Center officials suggested that well over twenty-five students have succumbed to the sickness. The number seemed to be a conservative estimate – in fact, it has been said that the Health Center was filled to capacity last weekend.
Although the Health Center has not performed any blood tests on students with flu symptoms, workers there are sure they suffer from influenza. “We’re seeing two different strands,” said Director of Health Services Ruth Harrison. “One is gastrointestinal, and the other is respiratory.” Both involve high fevers and fatigue, but the gastrointestinal virus also causes vomiting and sharp nausea. Harrison reports that body aches, congestion, and light-headedness are symptoms of the respiratory variety.
This is not a new problem, although this year’s outbreak seems to be particularly vicious. “We get students with the flu every winter,” says Harrison, “especially since we’re on a college campus. You have people in the same suites and the same classes, and you’re bound to get this sort of thing.”
Harrison recommended several methods of dealing with the flu. Students suffering from flu-like symptoms should keep themselves hydrated by drinking fluids and rest as much as possible. These are the two most important healing factors. Students should also stay away from alcohol during their sickness; they can take ibuprofen or Tylenol for associated pains, however.
Harrison warned that students should by no means take aspirin due to very dangerous side effects.
She emphasized that there is no simple way to fight the flu. “There’s no magic drug,” Harrison said, “so we’ve got to stick with the old tried and true methods.” While the Health Center can give antibiotics to deal with bronchitis or a sore throat, these are simply other symptoms of the virus.
In fighting the flu, Harrison said, “nothing works better than lots of fluids and rest.” She also spoke of flu shots, which are offered during the fall. Scientists develop vaccines during the spring for the next winter’s strand, and the shots are distributed during the fall. The Health Center usually offers these shots in late October, and students who receive them are much less likely to catch the virus that winter. “They’re worth your time,” Harrison noted. “They’re not a bad thing to do.” Students should inquire about them at the Health Center in the fall.
The disease can get very serious if left untreated. Some students have had extremely high fevers this year, fighting the illness at the Health Center or in their dorm rooms. There have been rumors on campus that several students were hospitalized from the flu, but these accounts are unconfirmed.
Finally, Harrison said, “those with very high fevers should come down to the Health Center.” It is the safest place to deal with extreme cases.