Healthcare professionals have had to prepare for an early outbreak of Influenza this winter. The flu is widespread in all 49 continental U.S states except Hawaii. It’s what some have called the worst flu season in 10 years.
Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, it can lead to death.
Since Jan. 1, there have been 34 outbreaks throughout the state of Florida, and more than 100 since the season began in October.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young children, adults ages 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are among those groups of people who are at high risk of serious flu difficulties.
The Florida Department of Health said three children, all of whom were not vaccinated, have died as a result of the flu.
The overall influenza activity continues to increase in the region of North America, and the World Health Organization detects that Influenza A(H3N2) is the predominant virus circulating throughout Florida.
Although it may seem like a distant issue at hand, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Donna Starkes encourages Florida A&M University students to use preventative measures to secure their health, due to the strong presence of the flu on campus.
“The flu is alive and well here on our campus, we are having students getting tested positive for the flu, and it’s still early in the season,” said Nurse Starke.
The best time to get a flu vaccination is in early October. “We administer flu vaccinations in the flu season of October through May,” said Nurse Starke.
It takes about two weeks for the vaccination to kick into protection mode, and the treatment should last until the next flu season.
When asked what students should do if they think they have the flu, Nurse Starke said “within 72 hours of experiencing symptoms, you need to see a physician. There is an antivirus medicine (Theraflu) that we give for the treatment of Influenza.”
To avert the illness from spreading, students who are sick receive a 5-day university excuse and are not allowed to return to school until their temperature goes under 100 F.
“I was sick for a week and It was hard because you don’t want to miss classes, however, your health is definitely more important,” said Isis Shaw, a junior Theatre Arts student.
Although vaccinations are known as the most effective method of prevention, it does not guarantee complete protection from the virus. Senior Theatre Arts student Sarah Fontil was a vaccination recipient and was still infected by the virus.
“It’s important you inform your doctors of all your symptoms and medical records before the flu shots because they’re also cases where the vaccination wasn’t beneficial to that person,” said Fontil.
As the flu season continues, here are some preventive habits to adopt from WebMD:
1.Keep up a healthy lifestyle
2.Wash your hands a lot
3.Use alcohol-based sanitizer
4.Avoid getting close to people who are sick
5.Keep your surroundings clean
6.Get a flu shot