The flu has been spotted in New Hampshire, according to the New Hampshire Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Director of the Center for Health and Wellness at Keene State College Christine Burke reported that she has yet to see a confirmed flu case on campus and hopes that with education and vaccinations, the flu’s effect on the college will be minimal.
Her biggest pieces of advice to students for the upcoming flu season was, “save your sick days.” If you are showing flu-like symptoms, the best thing to do, for you and your fellow students, is to stay home, get a lot of rest, drink lots of fluids and “stay out of circulation until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours.” Staying home will let your body rest and recover, but it also prevents you from infecting others.
KSC senior Taylor Montgomery often finds herself sick and wants to encourage others to keep their germs to themselves.
“It’s the basics that we teach preschoolers,” said Montgomery. “Cough in your elbow, wash your hands and don’t go to school if you’re sick so I don’t get sick.” It was not just the flu that Montgomery encountered. She also had run-ins with “just about everything… stomach bugs, colds, sinus infections and just about everything else.”
With so many sicknesses going around, Burke also wants students to be aware of what the symptoms of the flu actually are. According to Burke, a common misconception is that vomiting is a symptom of the flu when, in reality, that is a very uncommon symptom. Flu symptoms have a rapid onset; you may feel fine and then suddenly feel sick. A person with the flu will usually experience headaches and severe body aches, fatigue or muscle weakness and a high fever.
Although the flu can be treated easily enough at home, Burke said that preexisting medical conditions can exacerbate the virus, and students who have preexisting illnesses or conditions should seek medical care if they contract the flu.
Even a condition such as asthma could turn the flu into something more serious, such as pneumonia, if the proper precautions are not taken.
Burke’s recommended courses of action during flu season are getting vaccinated and taking care of yourself. Getting enough sleep is also an important factor of staying healthy; Burke recommends that college students get about eight hours of restful sleep a night to help reduce the chances of getting sick. She also recommended that students keep their partying to a minimum, especially during flu season.
KSC senior Caroline MacEachern said she keeping herself and her environment clean is an important part of staying healthy when the flu is in town. “I’m washing my hands and everything in my house,” said MacEachern when asked how she is preparing for the upcoming flu season.
In addition to covering their coughs and washing their hands, MacEachern also said students should clean up their area and avoid sharing drinks, whether at home or on campus.
On campus, Burke has seen a trend of first-year students getting sick most often. She said she said that it is because of their introduction to communal living.
With several students sharing a room and, in some dorms, an entire floor of students sharing the same bathroom, it can be hard to avoid getting sick once the germ has entered the building.
“We’ve been fortunate not to have a flu that has wiped out an entire residence hall,” said Burke.
Many first-year students can also benefit from a program that is provided by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human services, which allows for all children through the age of 18 to receive all recommended vaccines for free. Burke estimated that the Center for Health and Wellness has already vaccinated over 100 first-year students.
Burke encouraged students to read the email she and the Center for Health and Wellness sent out. She said the email includes information on getting vaccinated, how to minimize the spread of illness and what to do if you get sick.
The Center for Health and Wellness will be hosting a clinic on Oct. 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Madison Street Lounge, located on the first floor of the L.P. Young Student Center, where students can stop by and get vaccinated. Burke stated this year’s version of the vaccine protects against four different strains of the virus, whereas last year’s only protected against three.
Abbygail Vasas can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org