Aggressive flu sweeps across New York state
The New York Department of Health recently reported a spike in flu cases in every county in New York state, including Nassau and Suffolk. This particular illness, H3N2, is a type of Influenza A that is known to hospitalize patients. In response to this, Hofstra’s Student Health and Counseling Center (SHACC) has taken precautions to abate the spread of the disease on campus.
“It’s a little bit unpredictable to know which strains of the flu will come out in any given season and it is also unpredictable to know exactly when the flu season will start,” said public health Professor Dr. Corinne Kyriacou.
Not only is the H3N2 strain more aggressive than others, but it is also lasting longer. “It doesn’t seem to be ending early. They’re not even sure if its peaked yet. Usually you’d see a peak in January or around then, but it started in October and looks like it’s headed to go into the spring,” Kyriacou said.
The flu can often be difficult to discern at first from other illnesses such as the common cold. The Center for Disease Control lists the four major symptoms to help differentiate between the two illnesses.
Early flu symptoms come on abruptly, versus cold symptoms, which are gradual. It is rare to have a fever if you have contracted a cold, but somebody with the flu can have one for three to four days. One of the big signs of influenza is suffering from overall body fatigue and weakness. Lastly, discomfort in the chest and heavy coughing are common flu symptoms.
Nonetheless, there are multiple ways that people can protect themselves from contracting an influenza virus. One of the most common ways to do so is to receive the flu vaccination every season. Kyriacou says the flu vaccine is far less perfect than other vaccines that are available to us. Despite the fact that “it can be difficult to match certain vaccines with strains,” she said that even if you contract the disease after receiving a flu shot, the duration will be much shorter.
The SHACC provides flu vaccinations in the beginning of the season to allow students to build up their immunity. According to the Director of Student Health Services Donna Willenbrock, 250 students and staff have received vaccinations since September.
Unfortunately, the SHACC has run out of flu vaccines and is now referring students to community partners at little to no cost. Willenbrock additionally said that some of the best methods of prevention are simply staying hygenic. She urges students to wash their hands, cover their coughs and disinfect any item that may come in contact with a lot of people.
The SHACC has confirmed one case of the flu this semester from a commuter student. This student’s case was confirmed by a flu test on campus at the cost of $20.
Lauren Johnson, a sophomore literature major at Hofstra, gave her own tips regarding avoiding the flu. She said, “I drink orange juice a lot, make smoothies and I just try to incorporate more vitamins into my diet.”