Flu season in full swing

by Staff Writer Ciera Golliver

The influenza virus is in full swing at UNA, so students need to know how to best combat it.

Director of University Health Services Teresa Dawson said receiving the annual vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu.

UNA Health Services at Bennett Infirmary had the first positive flu test in the first week of December 2016, Dawson said.

Alabama has one of the highest numbers for patients with the flu this flu season, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During this flu season, 191 patients have presented flu-like symptoms in the Bennett Infirmary, but many with the flu manage their symptoms at home without seeing a health care provider, Dawson said.

Bennett Infirmary treats patients for symptoms of the flu rather than diagnosing them with the flu, Dawson said.

Dawson said the best way to treat flu symptoms is with plenty of rest, fluids and acetaminophen like Tylenol or ibuprofen such as Motrin. Most recover within a week of flu symptoms.

In some extreme cases, the health care provider may prescribe an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu to lessen symptoms, Dawson said.

The flu spreads when a person infected with the virus coughs and sends out virus-filled droplets. Anyone within close proximity who inhales the droplets or receives them in any form can be infected, Dawson said.

Patients can still vaccinate themselves for the flu at their local pharmacy or health care provider. The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body. The antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses in the vaccine, according to the CDC.

The next best strategy to prevent the flu is keeping the immune system healthy with a sufficient amount of sleep each night and a healthy diet full of citrus, Dawson said.

Everyone should also wash their hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol based sanitizer. Dawson also recommends everyone wipe down communal surfaces that may have come in contact with sick people. These surfaces include computer keyboards, door handles and table tops.

Students should also be aware of drinking and eating after people. Everyone should be careful not to touch their face, rub their eyes or put their hands in their mouth to prevent the spread of germs.

Sophomore Haley Hicks said on Facebook the flu is spreading through campus, especially the dorms.

“Wash your hands, Lysol everything and drink lots of (fluids),” Hicks said.