Flu epidemic strikes Ohlone
February 16, 2017
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Chances are you've heard someone violently coughing in at least one of your classes this semester. That's not just a head cold. It's the flu.
This flu season there are twice as many cases as usual and if you have had a flu shot you're still not protected. That's because the Center for Disease Control picked the wrong flu strain to vaccinate against this year. The CDC has to make an educated guess each year as to which flu strain will be the one that wreaks the most havoc in the country. They have a pretty good track record for picking the right strain but those years that they get it wrong, result in a lot more people getting the flu.
This year's flu is a bit different than the traditional flu as it mostly affects the respiratory system. People start of with a sore scratchy throat and then begin feeling fatigued, tired and dizzy. Soon they have a stuffy nose and a bad cough as well a fever and chills. Some people do have bouts of nausea, diarrhea and vomiting but most simply lose their appetite and feel weak.
Once you have the flu, you really won't want to go to class and you really shouldn't. "Stay home so you're not exposing everyone else," says Family Nurse Practitioner Sally Bratton of the Ohlone Student Health Center. Bratton also cautions that instructors shouldn't let sick people "sit in the back of the room because when they cough, all the [germs] fly forward," infecting everyone in front of them. People with the flu are typicaly contagious one day before showing symptoms and then 4 to 5 days into the flu.
So what's the best way to avoid the flu? "Wash your hands several times a day or use hand sanitizer," Bratton advices. Touching "door knobs, sharing telephones, and sitting at tables…where everybody else coughed and sneezed," are all great ways to catch the flu but washing your hands can help to minimize that risk.
If you happen to be unfortunate enough to catch the flu, you need to "treat the fever with Advil, Tylenol, or ibuprofen, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest". Nyquil, Dayquil, Mucinex and Theraflu all work well for the congestion. The main symptoms of this year's flu typically last four to seven days but the cough and fatigue can linger for up to three weeks. These lingering effects need to be watched closely because they could lead to more respiratory issues like bronchitiis and pneumonia. Flu seasons usually peaks between December and March but can last all the way until May.