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Influenza illnesses on the rise

Lindsay Sena | Thursday, February 7, 2008

A significant number of students have been spending more time at Health Services and less time in the classroom as influenza spreads through campus, Health Services physician Rebecca Moskwinski said.

“Basically, every other student who has sought medical services [in the past three weeks] has had the flu,” she said Tuesday.

In recent years, flu symptoms have run rampant for one week before subsiding, Moskwinski said. But this year, she said, has been “pretty bad.”

“A lot of times it’s one week and then it’s over, but now this is the third week and we’re still seeing a lot of cases,” Moskwinski said.

More surprising than the quantity of students infected is that many had received the flu vaccine.

“Some of the [flu type] that we’re seeing wasn’t covered on the flu shot this year,” Moskwinski said.

Symptoms for the most prevalent flu type on campus include cough, sore throat, aches, fatigue and a high fever. If a student develops these symptoms and visits Health Services within 48 hours, an antiviral may be prescribed, which will shorten the duration of the illness, Moskwinski said.

As for how many classes to miss, it depends mostly on the fever.

“Generally, if you have a fever you should be in bed and not go into class,” Moskwinski said.

Students have experienced various degrees of infection. Senior Colin Ethier missed only two classes when he contracted the flu.

“I had a bad cough and my chest was really tight. … I was extremely tired and my body ached for about four days,” he said.

However, sophomore Kara Coyle’s flu included a 103 temperature, inability to sleep more then two hours at a time, hot and cold flashes, nausea, a bad cough and extreme fatigue. She missed an entire week of school, leading her to turn in three papers late.

“Most of my teachers were understanding since it seemed to be a campus epidemic, but I don’t think my note from Health Services gave me an excuse for more than one day, which seems pretty unfair,” Coyle said.

According to CBSNews.com, the flu infects up to 20 percent of the population, causes the hospitalization of 200,000 and kills 36,000 each year.