On the first day back from winter break, NC State Student Health Services saw seven new cases of influenza, mostly from students who were not immunized.
The flu vs. the common cold
To many, the flu may initially present as a common cold. Most people know the typical symptoms of a cold: sore throat, runny nose, maybe a cough. Symptoms of the flu, on the other hand, are much more severe. If you begin experiencing body aches and pains, fever, headache, and cough, these symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the fever and body aches, a decongestant, and cough medicines.
Too late to vaccinate?
“While there have been reports questioning if this year’s vaccine is effective…medically, we still recommend the flu vaccine”, says NC State Student Health Services’ Medical Director, Dr. Julie Casani. “Our vaccine has good coverage of the H3N2 strain which was particularly devastating in Australia during their recent flu season.” Casani says that surveillance is ongoing to determine how the different flu strains are behaving this year.
If you are sick
Dr. Casani recommends the following if you think you might have the flu:
- Stay away from others as to not spread your illness. Admittedly, this can be hard to do during the first weeks of classes, however it is effective at keeping campus as healthy as possible.
- Wash your hands frequently! The most common and effective way to catch the flu is by touching your hands to your mouth. Using an alcohol-based sanitizer may help but is still not as effective as soap and water.
- Take over-the-counter medications, as you need it, for fever, cough, and congestion.
- If you are unable to keep up with your fluid loss, have a fever that isn’t controlled by acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or have other medical conditions making you susceptible to the effects of the flu, see a health care provider. Student Health will be open this week and you can make an appointment online or call which can prevent you from waiting once you are here or, if necessary, just come in to be seen.
And if you aren’t sick and haven’t gotten your flu shot, there are several options to get one on campus: