Staying healthy during flu season


Samantha Dickerson, Contributing Writer

UNCW administrators recently sent out an email warning students that the Influenza virus, more commonly known as the flu, had caused over 100 cases on campus, and that students should try to stay away from other students showing any indication of illness. While it is important to stay healthy, it can often be difficult when students live in such close proximity. So, what’s different about this year’s flu, and how can students stay healthy during the flu season?

The 2017-2018 flu season has seen an outbreak of the H3N2 strain of the influenza virus. It is more resistant to the flu shot and it affects the body more quickly, with worse effects. According to an article titled “What Makes This Flu Season So Bad” by National Geographic, scientists believe that the vaccine for the flu this year is close to 30 percent effective against this strain of virus, which may be why it is spreading more rapidly than previous years.

In a report by the Center for Disease Control that was sent out by the on-campus health center, it was shown that the flu’s symptoms this year come up very quickly and causes a high fever. A student with the flu will most likely encounter fluctuating body temperature, aches, weakness, and a severe cough. There can also be vomiting and dizziness.

Preventive measures that students can take before they get sick includes performing proper personal hygiene, such as washing their hands and maintaining a clean-living environment. Also, a good way to stop or lessen the effects of the flu is getting a flu shot yearly. According to the Center for Disease Control, the seasonal flu vaccine helps prevent against the strains of flu that are predicted to be the most impactful during the upcoming year.

One student who recently caught the flu looked back on what she wished she had done better and warned about the necessity of maintaining good personal hygiene.

“I wish I had washed my hands more throughout the day, and used hand sanitizer. Be conscious of your surroundings and try to take care of yourself,” said sophomore Jessica Goldberg.

When asked what the proper protocol for students with the flu was, Dr. Katrin Wesner, the director of the on-campus health center said, “Stay home from work or school until you are fever-free for 24 hours, without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.”

If a student is living with another student with the flu, the first thing to do is stay away from the ill student. If that is impossible, students should have antibacterial wipes, Lysol, and if needed, face masks to maintain a clean environment. It is very important to clean things that are used by all students in the area, including door handles.

If it is a student’s first time being sick and away from home, it can often be a difficult experience.

“When someone is sick, especially if it the first time they are sick when away from home, it is good if they have a support system. Calling home or texting with a parent, sibling, or close friend can all help,” said Dr. Wesner. “If a student is so homesick that it interferes with their school work or daily functioning we would encourage them to reach out to the counseling center on campus.”

Students can also take care of themselves when they have the flu by drinking warm teas or soups, and plenty of water to remain hydrated. Wearing comfortable clothes, and staying rested during that time period are also very important factors of staying well.

Students who feel ill, or who believe they have the flu should visit the Abrons Student Health Center, which is located in Deloach Hall. To make an appointment, call 910-962-3280, or walk in and speak with a receptionist.