Tiger Doc: Flu Season

From cautionary e-mails to parents nagging, many of us have become jaded with talk of the flu and getting vaccinated.

Unfortunately, this flu season has brought some severe cases to campus that are hard to ignore. Josh Marks was hospitalized last Thursday with the flu despite feeling “fine all day,” he said. Marks detailed, “I hadn’t eaten that much so when I got stomach cramps I thought it was hunger but I had lost my appetite.” By that evening after dinner, Marks began experiencing vomiting and was taken to the hospital a couple hours later.

Marks was treated with anti-nausea medication and an IV, and was not ready to be discharged until 2:45 a.m. when he nearly passed out when leaving. Another injection and Marks was on his way home by 3:30 a.m. He explained that he felt the illness “just happened,” without any particular contact to a flu source. Marks did not receive a flu vaccine this year.

Junior Mel Hummel also experienced passing out after stomach trouble, accompanied with “severe body aches and a bad headache.” Hummel turned to the Health Center and was given an anti-nausea prescription. She improved within a week after being instructed to remain isolated.

While sniffling and sneezing echo through winter into spring, few people are aware of the flu’s more severe side effects that can require serious measures to treat, such as hospitalization. Dr. Shirelle Applin’s e-mail to campus offered some necessary details concerning the spread of the flu and immunization, namely that “you need to allow 2 weeks in order to develop immunity after the vaccine.” People will often report becoming ill despite having gotten the vaccine, but are unaware that its protective effects are not immediate.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises the anti-viral Tamiflu as an effective treatment against the flu strains abundant with the 2013-2014 flu season. This is available in the Health Center, as Applin mentioned in her e-mail, for students who test positive for the flu and are in the first 48-72 hours of feeling symptoms.

Availability of vaccines and treatment is important to note given that the CDC reported that for the third week in January 2014, “The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold.” In young adults especially, ages 18-36 years, who are in crowded institutional settings such as school, dormitories, and the workplace, need to take extra precaution.

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