Tips to prevent the flu

Brady C. Mallory

Brady C. Mallory

While the holidays may be over, the season of giving is still alive and well.

Unfortunately the recipients are not feeling very well.

With winter comes influenza, better known as the flu. Viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs cause influenza. The flu can show symptoms of a mere cold, but is a highly infectious respiratory disease that causes symptoms of fatigue, fever, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Brenda F. Andersen, associate director of SDSU Health and Counseling Services has seen her share of infected students.

“I walk into the room and I can usually tell,” said Andersen.

During the 2004-2005 school year “I have never seen so much influenza,” she said. Health Services have not diagnosed any this year.

Andersen, along with the faculty of health services, would like students to be better educated by taking part in their prevention, which includes posters and table tents about the specifics of influenza and how to prevent it from spreading.

Vaccines are the common method for preventing the flu. The vaccine takes about 2 to 4 weeks to become effective, but can still provide help until March, which marks the end of flu season. The vaccine is no longer available at the student health clinic, but is at the Avera Brookings Medical Clinic.

Students are also able to find out that not only is getting vaccinated important for people of all ages, but healthy lifestyle habits are necessary as well.

Andersen has another objective to fulfill. “Our goal is to educate students on the difference between avian flu and influenza,” she said.

The avian flu is an influenza-A subtype that occurs mainly in birds, and can be deadly to them. The avian flu can be spread to humans, and cases have been found in Asia, Cambodia, China and various other countries. Though it has not reached the United States, a planning committee exists on campus in case of an outbreak.

While the avian flu has not affected the United States, influenza does. Simple steps such as “coughing into a Kleenex is huge. That is what helps, not medications,” Andersen said.

Though the SDSU janitorial staff uses cleaning agents that are anti-bacterial, touching surfaces, such as constantly contaminated doorknobs, and then touching one’s face allows the virus to enter the body through the nose or mouth.

Washing one’s hands habitually during the day is important. Proper nutrition, along with adequate sleep and exercise to build up the immune system, will help in the fight against influenza.