Health Update - Flu

Please read this information to help you understand how to stay healthy this “flu season.”

The following information will help you understand what influenza is, and the difference between the flu and a common cold.  It will also explain how flu is spread, and how you can prevent getting it and spreading it on our campus.

Influenza is a virus that is spread through respiratory secretions via coughing or sneezing.  A “common cold” is also a respiratory illness that is caused by different viruses.  Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone.  Special tests can be done within the first few days of illness to determine if a person has the flu.  In general the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and more intense.  Colds are usually milder than the flu.  People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.  Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.  Flu can have serious complications and the symptoms of the flu typically come on abruptly.  

Symptoms of the Flu: 

  • Fever/feeling feverish/chills
  • Headache 
  • Body Aches and Pains 
  • Fatigue and weakness

Symptoms of a Cold:  

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat 
  • Moderate productive cough

IMPORTANT FACTS:

  • Coughing can spread respiratory droplets six feet.  
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away. If you do not have a tissue cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing then wash your hands. 
  • The flu spreads from person to person.  
  • An infected person coughs or sneezes and the droplets move through the air and become deposited on the nose or mouth of people nearby.  
  • Avoid touching your face.  People generally touch their faces several hundred times a day.  
  • The virus can live on surfaces such as desks and doorknobs for eight hours.

Vaccination is the most important way to prevent the flu.  You may have received your vaccine at the University sponsored flu clinics in the fall. You may also have received the vaccine from your primary care physician or at local pharmacies and supermarkets in the community.  Vaccines are still available in the community at local pharmacies and supermarkets.

MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PREVENT GETTING AND SPREADING FLU

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.  
  • Rub your hands vigorously scrubbing all surfaces.  
  • Wash for at least 20 seconds.  
  • When soap and water are not available use alcohol based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.  
  • If using a gel, rub the gel until your hands are dry.  The alcohol in the gel kills germs that cause colds and the flu

If you feel ill stay home from school and work avoiding unnecessary contact with other people. 
The Student Health Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You may call 610-519-4070 to schedule an appointment with a doctor or nurse practitioner.  You may also be evaluated as a walk-in patient by a registered nurse.  There are antiviral medications that can shorten the duration of your illness or prevent serious complications.  The flu can affect anybody.  Some women who are pregnant and other people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease may be at risk for complications of the virus.  Although there can be complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, most people recover from the illness just fine.  

For more information regarding the flu visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/