Flu reaches epidemic levels, students should take precautions

This year’s flu season is more intense than any year before.

According to federal health officials, it is only getting worse. The flu is widespread throughout the United States. It is on track to surpass the 2014-2015 flu season, when 34 million Americans got the flu, 710,000 were hospitalized and about 56,000 people died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC is reporting that,“All U.S. states but Hawaii continue to report widespread flu activity, and the number of states experiencing ‘high’ influenza activity increased from 32 states plus New York City and Puerto Rico to 39 states plus New York City and Puerto Rico.”

In Texas, there have been 2,300 flu-related deaths reported this season. This doesn’t include many January deaths because it takes several weeks for the state to receive that data from the CDC.

This year, 80 percent of tracked flu cases are H3N2. The last time this strain was dominant was the 2014-15 season, which saw 19 pediatric flu deaths. This recent flu season has seen 37 pediatric deaths nationwide, including eight from Texas.

It is recommended to get a flu shot, even with it being so late in the season. Even though it may not prevent the flu, it does lessen the symptoms and recovery time. The CDC’s reports show that 85 percent of children who have died from the flu did not receive the flu shot. The CDC’s website recommends everyone 6 months old and older receive a flu shot.image003

Currently, on South Plains College’s Levelland campus, only 10 to 12 students have tested positive for the flu.

According to DeEtte Edens, associate director of Health and Wellness, “This year has had a crazy flu season.People are exhibiting high fever with upper respiratory issues, and they are testing positive. Some with what appears to be a common cold are also testing positive. Even those with upset stomachs have tested positive for flu.”

Edens offers the following tips for reducing exposure to the flu:

Wash your hands – wash your hands multiple times daily to avoid the spread of germs.

Avoid close contact – avoid close contact with people who are sick. She suggests that people refrain from participating in social activities whenever possible.

Stay home when you are sick – if possible, stay home from work and school when you are sick to help prevents others from catching your illness.

Cover your mouth and nose – cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent those around you from getting sick.

Get plenty of rest – give yourself time to get well by getting plenty of bedrest.

Edens added that the flu season normally continues through February and ends with the absence of fewer positive tests.

Author: Autumn Bippert

Editor-in-Chief of the Plainsman Press. I am a freshman Photojournalism student at SPC. I'm from Georgetown TX.

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