Renee Sogueco, ‘Doah Staff Writer
January 23, 2013
The final months of 2012 brought us an assortment of tumultuous events, including one of the worst flu seasons in years. Not only is this particular flu season affecting more people than normal, it started earlier than usual as well. Typically, late January to early February are the peak flu times. However, this year people began getting sick in November and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already reported numerous flu related deaths.
According to ABC News Channel and Time Magazine, about 536 people were treated for influenza this season at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Boston declared a public health emergency due to this. The hospitalizations for flu-related illnesses at the same hospital have more than doubled compared to last year’s numbers. In Pennsylvania, the number of flu cases forced one hospital to construct a tent just for the illness.
Elsewhere in the U.S., other hospitals, such as in Minneapolis and St. Paul, have needed to add extra units to care for flu-related cases. Locally, Winchester Medical Center has restricted visitor access in an effort to reduce people’s exposure to the flu. They previously did this in 2009 during the H1N1 flu scare. While in 2009, people feared receiving the H1N1 flu, this upcoming season people are wary of the H3N2 flu strain.
Part of the problem during the winter months is that people tend to stay indoors. These confined spaces make it easier for the virus to be spread and passed along. Those with poor hygiene or weak immune systems are especially susceptible to catching the virus.
Fortunately, it seems as though the flu virus has not hit Shenandoah University as hard as the rest of the nation. “At this point, we have not seen the effects of the epidemic at S.U. I will say that we have vaccinated more students, faculty and staff this year compared to previous years,” says Dr. Ronald Stickley of S.U.’s Wellness Center.
Students around campus should take extra care to avoid the flu this year, considering it is one of the worst seasons. The best way of avoiding influenza is to receive a flu vaccination. The flu shot is free at the Wilkins Wellness Center for students. It is important for students to be aware of other ill students so as to not contract the virus. People can also avoid getting the flu by staying hygienic. This includes washing hands often, using hand sanitizer and keeping the face hands-free. Keeping hands off of the face prevents germs on the hands from entering the body.
If a student is already sick, the best measures to getting better is to stay indoors, rest, drink lots of fluids and use fever-reducing medicines. To avoid spreading the virus, students should cover coughs and sneezes by the crook of their elbows. If the sneeze or cough happens to land in the hands, washing them immediately and thoroughly will prevent germs from spreading. Viruses, not bacteria, cause colds and the flu. Antibiotics do not kill viruses, so they are therefore ineffective in treating these ailments.