WCU Health Services preparing for flu season rush

Flu season is beginning to rear its ugly head in the ‘Whee, and many students have already felt the nasty effects of its potent virus.

Western Carolina University’s Health Center, headed up by Director Pam Buchanan, has already taken preventative measures by stocking up on flu shots in hopes of routing the disease once it begins making its rounds through the residence halls.

Buchanan said there is many ways to prevent getting the flu.

“Vaccination is one of the easiest ways to prevent getting the flu and spreading the flu virus,” she said.

Flu shots are available on campus and protect against several strains of flu, including typical seasonal flu and H1N1, commonly known as Swine Flu.

Buchanan’s urging for students to receive the vaccine follows in line with Health Services observation of the Center for Disease Control’s three-step approach to the flu.

Directly from the CDC’s website is the first step: obtaining a flu vaccination each year.

While some people may decide to opt out of the flu shot, the CDC recommends the vaccine because influenza is easier to prevent than to treat.

Prescription antiviral drugs are available for those who contract the virus. The elderly, the very young, those with chronic health conditions, and pregnant women should all be treated immediately to prevent further complications, according to the CDC.

For those who decide against the vaccine and are still healthy, everyday preventative measures against the flu can be taken.

As the flu virus spreads through coughing, sneezing, talking, and touching, washing your hands frequently with soap is essential to staying healthy. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, as this is the main way that germs enter the body, according to the CDC. If at all possible, try to avoid close contact with sick people as well.

For those who have already contracted the virus, there are some simple tricks to keeping your friends and colleagues from getting the flu.

Using a tissue to cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing is a great way to stop the spread of the virus. If possible, try to stay home for 24 hours after your fever breaks too.

“While the exact timing and duration of flu seasons vary, flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, with most flu activity peaking in January or later,” Buchanan said.

As of Oct. 31, Health Services has not seen patients with confirmed flu diagnoses, but there is never a shortage of sickness on a campus housing over 3,500 students.

“Many seasonal illnesses have the same symptoms as the flu virus,” Buchanan said.

If a student were to contract the flu and visit Health Services, typical treatment might include medications (TAMIFLU) and advice to get plenty of rest and fluids. Buchanan says that Health Services typically sees most flu cases after winter break in the early weeks of the spring semester.

If you are interested in receiving a flu shot, please call 828-227-7640 for an appointment with Health Services.