The sounds of sneezing and coughing resonate from the halls of Helder to the corridors of Coulter. Students, faculty, and staff rush to find a tissue. Fevers are rising, muscles are aching, and classes are being missed en masse. The Cullowhee Crud is back and it’s creeping into every classroom on campus.
The Cullowhee Crud is caused by a virus. Symptoms include fevers and chills, muscle aches, headache, cough, and weakness. Although the symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, the Cullowhee Crud is something more.
“The Cullowhee Crud,” said Brenda Bumgarner, Nursing Administrator for WCU’s University Health Services, “is the flu.”
While there are no foolproof methods for preventing the flu, there are several simple ways to reduce the risk. The primary preventative measure is the flu vaccine, which can reduce the chances of getting the flu by 75%. Ideally, the vaccine is administered before mid-November. Those who have missed the ideal deadline should still get the vaccine. “Even though it’s late in the year,” said Bumgarner, “flu season lasts until April.”
Bumgarner offers several other common-sense preventive measures: “Cover your mouth, use a tissue, and wash your hands.” Because the flu can be spread by hand contact, frequent hand washing is one of the best preventative measures. The virus can also be spread through the air by coughing and sneezing, so fresh tissues are a necessity in impeding the spread of the flu. Good general health, with plenty of rest and a good diet, is another excellent defense against the flu. In other words, listen to your mother.
In the event that the flu prevails over the vaccine and your mother’s advice, there are steps to be taken to hasten recovery. The most important remedy for the full-blown flu is bed rest. Bumgarner suggests 48-72 hours of bed rest accompanied by an increase in water intake. The afflicted can take aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce pain and fever. Over-the-counter cough suppressants and lozenges can be used to relieve a cough or a sore throat.
The flu is generally not dangerous. Bumgarner suggests a visit to the Health Services clinic for those with an unbreaking fever of 101 or higher for a period of 24 hours. Other symptoms requiring a visit include symptoms persisting for 7 days or more, severe headaches in conjunction with fever or stiffness, and difficulty breathing beyond stuffiness and a cough.