With the season of winter comes the flu. This happens every year, and yet, we can’t seem to get a hold of it. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the United States has an epidemic of the seasonal flu every year. Approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year.
On February 17, Stony Brook students received an email from Student Health Services urging them to get the vaccination, although it’s not as effective as previous vaccines. “Getting the vaccine has been shown to offer substantial other benefits including reducing illness, antibiotic use, time lost from school or work, hospitalization, and death,” said Rachel Bergeson, director of SHS. Then it goes on to explain the precautions to take in order to stop the spread of the flu around campus.
What makes this 2014-2015 flu season so much different is that, beginning in December, many states reported to CDC that some patients with the flu virus also had swelling of their salivary glands, a condition called parotitis. This condition isn’t a normal symptom of the flu and no deaths have been reported in patients with parotitis.
Also different this year, since the beginning of February there have been more flu-related hospitalizations of people ages 65 and older recorded than ever before. Over 60 percent of flu cases involve the senior demographic. Children ages four and under have the second-highest hospitalization rate.
Flu epidemics are common considering how fast and easy the virus can be spread from person to person, and from as far as six feet away. The flu is most commonly spread by droplets from people who are sick when they cough or sneeze and are inhaled through the mouth or nose. Also, it can be spread if someone touches a surface or object with the virus on it, then touch their mouth or nose.
The flu is very contagious and can be spread from one person to another before they know they have the virus. Seemingly healthy adults can infection someone else one day before showing symptoms and five to seven days after becoming sick.
Flu symptoms are typically confused with common cold symptoms, so the only way to find out if someone has the flu is to go to a doctor and get tested for it. Chances are if someone a fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle/body aches, headache and tiredness, that person has the virus.
In order to stop the spread of the flu, health officials strongly urge everyone six months and older to get the vaccination. But there could potentially be complications with the vaccine as well. If one doesn’t want to get the vaccination or want to take extra precautions, they should make sure to stay away from sick people and wash their hands frequently, according to the CDC.
If a person does come down with the virus, the CDC says best way to contain it is to stay home from work or school until they’re no longer contagious. The contagious period varies from person to person depending on severity and the immune system. There are antiviral drugs that will treat symptoms faster and prevent flu-like complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and even death.
The CDC recommends that those who are starting to feel under the weather should make sure to get plenty of rest, drink a lot of water or juice and wash hands, especially after coughing or sneezing. The Student Health Center is open Monday through Friday for anyone that feels the need to see a doctor.