The flu is right on schedule and back with a vengeance. Students at Keene State College will need to prepare themselves for another onslaught of health misery.
This mid-fall has brought the flu slightly earlier than in past years, but it also follows a very allergy-ridden summer. Mother Nature seems to give no mercy this year as this infection prepares itself to pass from student to student.
“We know that it’s [the flu] in New Hampshire and that it’s earlier than usual,” Christine Burke, director for the Center of Health and Wellness, said.
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There have been no reported cases of the flu hitting the Keene area or on the KSC campus yet, but that doesn’t mean students should wait until there is an outbreak to take action. There are some telltale signs of having influenza. According to Burke, the common symptoms of the flu are fever, body aches, sore throat and a cough. Anne Nolan, an infection preventionist for the Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, agreed.
If these symptoms occur, students are urged to stay home and rest, according to Burke. She added that if breathing problems occur, however, medical attention should be sought out, but other than that there is not much use seeing a doctor or nurse.
“It’s a viral illness that works itself out,” said Nolan.
There are also common misconceptions of whether it is the flu or just the common cold. There are some distinct differences, according to Nolan. She commented that the cold is most noticeable in the morning just after waking up, but the feelings generally go away throughout the day. With the flu, after waking, one does not have any stamina or motivation to do anything, especially going to classes. College students are very susceptible to the influenza virus because of the close proximity of living in the residence halls. Students attending college are always within close contact with others in the dorms, whether it’s sleeping in small two to four-person rooms or crowding the same rooms during the day. Senior and Resident Assistant in Monadnock Hall, Ryan Glick said the flu can spread quickly across a college campus. “There’s no other place where people live this close other than living in college dorms,” he said. With being so close to others, there are many preventative pieces to keeping the flu away. According to Burke, hand-washing, good rest and less alcohol intake will lower the chance of catching in the virus. She added that taking advil pushing fluids with help as well.
“The more weakened their immune system, the easier they can get sick,” she said. Nolan said avoiding sick people and distancing oneself socially can help a great deal in preventing the virus. A major preventative option is getting a flu shot, which is recommended. Although a new strain of the flu pops up every year, the flu shot is one of the best bets to repelling the contagion, according to Nolan.
“Studies show that the communities with the highest flu shots have the lowest flu numbers,” she said.
“I’ve gotten the flu shot every year and I’ve never gotten the flu,” junior Sarah Wolff commented. She added that drinking water, eating well, taking Vitamin C and getting plenty of rest contribute to keeping the flu at bay. The Center for Health and Wellness will be having three flu clinics in October, according to Burke. Here, students will be able to receive the flu shots for $15, which will be charged to their student accounts. The flu clinics will be held on Oct. 16 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Madison Street Lounge, Oct. 19 from 2-4 p.m. in the Rhodes Hall lobby and Oct. 24 from 4-6 p.m. in the Madison Street Lounge.
Students can also set up an appointment with the Health Center for the flu shot. “They can always get one [a flu shot],” said Burke. The flu is something a student can get over quickly, but it packs a punch. Taking precautionary actions will diminish the chances of getting the flu. Prevention is key in dealing with the flu and students have an arsenal of options in dealing with it.
“The flu is not in the head, it’s in the body,” Burke mentioned. “You feel like you were hit by a bus.”
Michael Woodworth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.