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January 24, 2013

Influenza 2013

What is influenza?
Influenza (“the flu”) is a highly contagious illness caused by a specific type of virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, muscle aches, headache, runny nose, sore throat, and weakness. The infection can cause mild to very severe symptoms.

How is influenza spread?
The virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes into the air. The virus can also live on surfaces such as door knobs, keyboards, and countertops for at least eight hours. People can spread the virus from one day before their symptoms begin until about a week after the onset of symptoms.

How do I prevent the spread of the flu?

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer available at the Health Center. Clean surfaces with germicidal wipes or other household cleaning products
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth after touching surfaces. Maintain a distance of at least six feet from people who are sick; students should separate themselves in class as much as possible.
  • Get vaccinated!

I think I have the flu. What should I do?
Generally the flu lasts for three to seven days. Some people may develop serious complications such as pneumonia. Antiviral medicines may be prescribed by a health care provider, but they are recommended for severe infections and for persons at risk of developing complications. These medications must be started within 48 hours of symptom onset to be effective. Employees should stay home for at least a week or until they have been without a fever for 24 hours without the use of medications. Students should not attend class and should limit their exposure to the campus community as much as possible. We encourage students who have flu-like symptoms to be evaluated at the Health Center. A Dean’s Excuse will be issued for students with influenza. Student-athletes should notify their coach and trainer if they have flu symptoms. Attending practice and games can compromise the entire team.

What can I do at home or in my dorm?
For healthy people, the flu usually resolves on its own and only requires supportive care. Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) 1000mg every eight hours or ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) 600mg every eight hours. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration since you will lose extra fluids from the fever, sweating, and possibly vomiting/diarrhea. Get plenty of rest and take care of yourself. Find a “flu buddy” to help you out if you need assistance getting food or medicines.

Stay well

Be smart

Get vaccinated

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