Fighting the fever

Fighting the fever

CW / Belle Newby

Amanda Sare

Flu season is unpredictable and its start and finish varies from year to year. Seasonal flu activity can begin as early as November and continue until as late as May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases a weekly flu report explaining how widespread the outbreak is.

Over the past few weeks, Alabama had fallen into the CDC’s “widespread” category, but this week has dropped to “regionally spread.” This means that fewer than 6 percent of the state’s Public Health Areas indicated a spread of 
the flu virus.

During the 2013-2014 flu season, the CDC received reports of the flu virus among young and middle-aged adults, many of whom were infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus. In 2014, more than 105 flu-related deaths in children were reported to the CDC from 30 different states.

People infected with the flu virus can pass it on to others before any symptoms begin to show. Most healthy adults can pass on the flu one day before showing symptoms and up to five to seven days after being sick.

Younger people or someone with a weak immune system could infect another person for an extended period of time. According to the Alabama Health Department, Alabama has already undergone the strongest part of flu season in October. As of Dec. 20, 2014, the state of Alabama has had about 5.8 percent of its patients test positive for influenza.

The best way to help prevent yourself from catching the flu virus is to get the flu immunization every year. The CDC conducts a study every year to see how well the flu vaccine protects against having to go to the doctor. During the 2012-2013 season the vaccine was 56 percent effective for all age groups.

Some believe the influenza vaccine is not effective at preventing patients from getting sick.

“I have never gotten the flu shot and the last time I can remember coming down with the flu was when I was a young child,” said Caroline Robinson, a freshman majoring in computer science.

Despite those who have had the flu shot and still get the flu, the influenza vaccine cannot give you the flu, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

A person who has the flu virus will show a plethora of symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. If he got a flu shot he should take extra safety precautions to prevent connecting with the virus, including avoiding close contact, covering his nose and mouth, washing his hands often, avoiding touching his face and mouth and staying home when you are sick.

“I recommend anyone who does not have the virus to avoid ER’s, nursing homes and urgent care facilities,” said Sherry Rowe, a nurse practitioner working in H. Whit Oliver’s Florida-based medical practice.

Staying home when sick is the most important thing to remember when flu season is in full swing. When sick, a person’s body needs rest, meaning students feeling ill should not go to class in order to prevent spreading the illness further.

“If someone comes down with the flu they should use ibuprofen to get the fever down and stay home for 24 hours after the fever is gone,” Rowe said.

For students and staff who may have the flu, the Student Health Center is open Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and closed on Saturday and Sunday. Their Urgent Care hours are Monday-Thursday 5 – 8 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday 1- 4 p.m. During SHC’s regular hours of operations, walk-ins are welcome or if you are a previous patient you can call ahead and make an appointment.

“I’ve had nothing but good experiences at the SHC, usually when you call ahead and make an appointment they are able to get you in fairly quick,” said Danica O’Malley, a junior majoring in psychology.