With flu season underway, students should be wary of the different flu strains roaming around campus.
Influenza, otherwise known as the flu, comes in many different forms, but can be kept at bay with a few tips recommended by health experts.
“It’s never too late to get the flu shot,” said Sharon Aronoff, health educator at the Klotz Student Health Center.
The most helpful thing somebody can do to combat the seasonal flu is get to vaccinated every year before the start of flu season, but there are other preemptive measures one can take in order to prevent the flu, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Wash your hands with soap and water,” Aronoff said. “Try to avoid close contact with sick people. While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.”
If you are contaminated with the virus, symptoms may take up to one day to show and in that time frame, chances of infecting others before symptoms are shown are highly probable, as well has up to five to seven days after infection, according the CDC. People with weakened immune systems could possibly infect others past the allotted five to seven day mark. So if you begin to feel ill while at school or work, it is highly recommended that you go home as soon as possible.
The most current flu vaccine can shield one from Influenza A, which includes H1N1 and H3N2 (H3N2 is made up of genes from avian, swine and human viruses, and the 2009 widespread H1N1 virus) and Influenza B.
However, only 39 percent of adults 18 years or older were vaccinated by early flu season, according to the CDC.
H3N2 is an influenza that spreads around pigs and has contaminated humans. It can spread from pigs to people or vice versa. Infection can spread if the droplets from a pig’s cough or sneeze lands in a person’s mouth or if the droplets are inhaled. Other ways to catch the virus are through touching something that has been contaminated by the virus and then in turn touching your own mouth or nose.
Influenza B is not divided into subtypes, according to the CDC.
Another way the CDC recommends to combat the flu is with prescription antiviral drugs, which can lessen the symptoms of the illness and help the body recuperate faster, but instructions from your doctor must be followed when these drugs are prescribed.
Jackie Salgado, 23, junior interior design major, said she doesn’t take the extra precautions to avoid the flu.
“I try to wash my hands as frequently as I can and I try to stay hydrated, but I don’t get vaccinated even though my mom wishes that I would,” Salgado said. “I do carry sanitizer everywhere I go in case I don’t (have the opportunity) to wash my hands.”
Despite not receiving the flu vaccine, Salgado has not caught the flu this year.
Omar Oseguera, 21, junior philosophy major, said he combats the flu by eating healthy, but he doesn’t take any preemptive measures in avoiding the flu.
“I don’t like to take medicine,” Oseguera said. “(I try to live a healthy lifestyle), but I do juice. Over winter break I was sick, but I had not been sick in over a year because of my diet, I’d like to think. I heard (the flu vaccine) works, but people I know that have taken them have gotten sick, but I think that’s what it’s supposed to do. If I feel a cold coming on, I juice bell peppers.”
Although Oseguera is a vegan and lives a very healthy lifestyle, he did catch the flu in the latter part of 2013.
“I got sick when I was house sitting for my old boss and his family,” Oseguera said. “Apparently they were all sick at one point and left the bug in their home while they went away on vacation.”
Despite a healthy lifestyle, the CDC still states that the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine.
Here are a few tips to save you this flu season.
6 tips to prevent the flu, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.
- Avoid close contact.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Clean your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.