Influenza(Flu) has been rapidly increasing in Oregon and other areas of the US over the past month. We often see an increase on campus right after Winter Break as students return from various parts of the world. The best way to prevent Influenza is by getting vaccinated. Influenza vaccine is available at Student Health Services. The following is information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding Influenza.
What is Influenza (also called Flu)?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Signs and Symptoms of Flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
How Flu Spreads
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
Period of Contagiousness
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. It is important to stay away from work, classes and other public areas as much as possible when you have symptoms of influenza to prevent spreading the illness to others.
Onset of Symptoms
The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus to when symptoms begin is about 1 to 4 days, with an average of about 2 days.
Complications of Flu
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
People at High Risk from Flu
Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.
The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.
It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other viral or bacterial causes of respiratory illnesses on the basis of symptoms alone. There are tests available to diagnose flu. For more information, see Diagnosing Flu.
There are influenza antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.
Meningococcal Disease: Know the Facts
Young adults are at increased risk of meningococcal disease, a serious infection that can lead to lifelong complications and even death. This potentially fatal disease most often causes severe swelling of the tissue around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), or a serious blood infection (meningococcemia). Even with treatment, approximately one out of every 10 people who get the disease will die, and two in 10 will suffer serious and permanent complications, including brain damage, kidney damage, hearing loss, and amputation of arms, legs, fingers or toes.
The disease is caused by many different types (serogroups) of bacteria. The standard 4-strain vaccine (quadrivalent Meningococcal vaccine) that many students received as adolescents is required by OSU for incoming students under age 22 and available at Student Health Services. This vaccine does not protect against one cause of the disease: serogroup B. Infectious disease experts do not recommend routine immunization with Type B vaccine in healthy individuals. However, for those who wish to get it, the Type B vaccine is also available at Student Health Services.
Please call the SHS Advice Nurse at 541-737-2724 if you have questions about vaccine availability. You should check with your insurance company to see if the cost will be covered. The charges can also be billed to your student account.
Early symptoms are often similar to the flu which can cause a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms usually progress very quickly and may include some combination of:
- high fever
- stiff neck
- purplish rash
Death can happen in as little as 24-48 hours.
Students who experience these symptoms, especially if they come on suddenly, are progressive, or severe, should be examined by a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Meningococcal disease is spread from person to person. The bacteria are spread by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit) during close or lengthy contact (for example, sharing drinking glasses or kissing). Some people who have the bacteria may show no signs and symptoms of the disease but they can still transmit it to others.
Vaccination is the best protection against this disease. There are two types of vaccines available to help protect against infection. Even if you have been vaccinated, there is still a chance you can develop a meningococcal disease, so it’s important to know the symptoms. Early recognition and prompt medical attention are very important.
For more information: visit the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) website, http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html. You can also call the SHS Nurse Advise Line at 541-737-2724 or talk to your healthcare provider at Student Health Services.
Zika Virus Information
Live updated information on Zika virus can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
Zika virus is spread to people primarily through mosquito bites. Only 1 out of 5 infected individuals will develop symptoms which include:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes).
Whether or not symptoms occur, all individuals with Zika infection can potentially spread it to others through sexual contact or blood transfusion. Zika is not spread through casual contact such as in a class room, between roommates who are not sexual partners, or through contaminated food.
Though the active infection only lasts for a few days, the potential for spread through sexual contact can last for months. So what’s the big concern? Zika virus can lead to serious birth defects if a pregnant woman develops an infection or if an infected woman later becomes pregnant and transmits it to her unborn fetus.
If your partner traveled to an area with Zika
Zika virus can affect fetal brain development, and infected persons can carry this virus without showing symptoms. Because of these factors, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people with a partner who traveled to an area with Zika use condoms or avoid having sex for a period of time.
The precautionary period depends on whether the traveling partner is female or male:
- If female: Use condoms or do not have sex for at least 8 weeks after her return from an area with Zika (if she doesn’t have symptoms), or for at least 8 weeks from the start of her symptoms (or Zika diagnosis) if she develops Zika.
- If male: Use condoms or do not have sex for at least 6 months after his return from to an area with Zika (if he doesn’t have symptoms), or for at least 6 months from the start of his symptoms (or Zika diagnosis) if he develops Zika. This extended period is because Zika stays in semen longer than in other body fluids.
If you live in an area with Zika
If you live in an area with Zika it’s best to use condoms or avoid having sex. If you (or your partner) develop symptoms of Zika or if you have concerns, talk to a healthcare provider.
The CDC recommends the following precautions to avoid exposure and complications: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html
If you have recently traveled in affected areas and feel that you may have symptoms of Zika virus infection, contact Student Health Services for evaluation.