Students fight flu at SDSU

Denise Watt

Denise Watt

You know that feeling.

Your head hurts, your body aches and you have chills. And you’re not alone.

Student health staff have seen a spring surge of Influenza A on campus, according to Brenda Andersen, associate director of SDSU Student Health and Counseling. She said so far, more than 20 cases have been diagnosed in March. A number of those cases have been students from Young Hall.

While an increase in cases later in the season may be unusual, “it can happen,” Andersen said.

She compared the situation with that of a couple years ago when a flu vaccine shortage occurred.

This year, in order to prepare for an avian flu pandemic, student health had extra vaccine on hand, Andersen said.

But despite the surplus, students didn’t seem to get their shots. That may have factored into the recent outbreak.

“We couldn’t give it away,” Andersen said. “We had the worst turnout we’ve ever had.”

Staff at both student health and Avera Brookings Medical Center have seen patients with influenza-like illnesses as well.

Those illnesses show flu-like symptoms-like body aches, fever, cough, headache and sometimes a sore throat-but don’t test positive for influenza, said Lonnie Kuck, nurse manager at Avera.

Clinic staff have seen more influenza in children and young adults, Kuck said.

Those infected with the flu can be contagious for up to one week before showing symptoms, Andersen said.

If students do have symptoms, they should make an appointment with a health professional so other illnesses, like strep throat and mononucleosis, can be ruled out, she said.

In some cases, anti-viral medicine can be prescribed with an early diagnosis, she said.

After a couple days, however, she recommends flu victims use ibuprofen and cough suppressant and drink plenty of fluids.

“The key thing is people need to still do those basic things to stay well,” Andersen said. That includes hand-washing, covering coughs and using hand sanitizer.

“(Students) just really got to take care of themselves.”

The flu lasts about four or five days, Andersen said, but fatigue may linger for a few days longer.

“It seems to be people are getting over it a little quicker,” she said.

She recommends students still get the vaccine, which costs $10.

“I think the key is staying home if you get diagnosed with it,” Andersen said. “Most teachers are pretty understanding of that.”