The Keene State Wellness Center has reported that multiple students have tested positive for the flu. According to Wellness Center nurse Deborah Starratt, there has recently been an uptick in students coming in with flu-like symptoms.
However, not all these students will have the flu. Starratt said one way to differentiate between a common cold and the flu is that flu symptoms come on quicker while a cold will be more relaxed.
“Usually with a cold virus your symptoms are gradual. You might have a sore throat one day, a stuffy nose the next day, then you might have a cough. With the flu, it’s usually very sudden and onset. You might be feeling fine during the day and then that evening you might really feel like you got hit by a truck,” Starratt said.
Infectious disease physician Aalok Khole said the flu will also cause what he calls systemic symptoms, which include muscle aches, chills and general fatigue. “Fevers are sometimes present and sometimes not,” said Khole.
Starratt said the close and confined nature of colleges like Keene State make it a perfect breeding ground for the flu. Additionally, students coming back from break from across the country means that students can be bringing in the flu and different viruses from different locations.
“The flu shot is the best protection against the flu,” Starratt said. However, there are other precautions you can take. Starratt said good hygiene and getting eight hours of sleep each night can reduce your chances of getting the flu.
If you believe that you have the flu, Starratt recommends rest and staying hydrated. Additionally, the dining hall offers sick delivery meals.
The Wellness Center also recommends limiting contact with other people. If there is someone who is diagnosed with the flu who lives in your vicinity then more than likely you also have the flu too, said Tiffany Mathews, the coordinator of wellness and education at Keene State College..
According to Starratt, it’s not always best to come into the clinic if you feel like you may have the flu.
“We don’t encourage everybody to come over because they all would be sitting out in the waiting room and spreading it around and we might have students who don’t have something contagious and then they’re getting exposed,” Starratt said.
Khole said you should take special care around the young and the old or those who are immunocompromised, as they will be put at risk the most if they get the flu.
The Center for Disease Control recommends that if you are sick with flu-like symptoms you should remain at home for at least 24 hours after the symptoms are gone.
Mathews said while the flu shot might not always prevent the flu, it can still reduce the severity, duration and chance of mortality. According to the American College Health Association, 53 percent of college students reported being vaccinated for the flu in 2019.
The rise in flu cases right now is nothing out of the ordinary. “It’s pretty consistent that we would expect a rise in the illness rates right now and it sort of tapers down as the months go by,” said Khole.
Students can schedule a flu shot by either going online through the Wellness Center patient portal or by calling the Wellness Center at 603-358-2450.
Teddy Tauscher can be contacted at