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The Antelope

The Antelope

Stay home with your flu


Personal responsibility saves lives during high-risk flu season
By Jess Moser

Nurse practitioner Cindy Hayes from Student Health says people who are sick need to stay home. “In addition to doing the patient care as a nurse practitioner, I also look at this from a public health standpoint,” Hayes said. “So, somebody who is running high fevers, who is coughing or blowing their nose. If they’re going to class, they are going to infect so many other students.”

Hayes always encourages students to email their instructors, tell them you have a temperature, that you think you may have the flu and that you don’t think you should be in class. Stay home and isolate yourself when sick, so you don’t spread it.

“People forget that influenza kills people. Tens of thousands of people die from influenza every year and not just little babies or old people. We’ve seen young, healthy adults with no prior medical history that have died from this illness. So, it is something that we need to take seriously,” Hayes said.

The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website says influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness stressing possible complications that can result in hospitalization and death. Flu symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

“People forget that influenza kills people. Tens of thousands of people die from influenza every year

“The most important thing people can do to prevent the flu is to get the flu shot. Even the CDC says to get your flu shot,” Hayes said. “I know there has been a lot of media out this year about how it wasn’t a great match, or you don’t have great coverage, but the flu shot covers four different strains. Even if it’s not a great fit, having the flu shot can decrease the severity of those symptoms and can protect you from other strains. I’ve seen and heard of people getting exposed to more than one strain and having different types of influenza at different points.”

Other ways to prevent the flu: good hand washing and covering your cough or sneeze. Wiping things down with bleach wipes and Lysol and keeping your hands away from your face also prevent flu.

“If people aren’t sure what they have, come in and get it checked out. If students are taking seven or more credits on campus, they pay the student health fee. There’s no charge to come in and get evaluated.”

The CDC recommends checking with your doctor promptly after developing symptoms, especially those at high risk for flu complications. Those who are at high risk are young children, adults over 65, pregnant women and those with prior medical conditions. Antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and prevent serious flu complications like pneumonia. The CDC also recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except for getting medical care or other necessities.

While the University of Nebraska at Kearney has been lucky, other schools in the area have been closed due to the high number of students with flu-like symptoms this flu season, including Bright Futures Preschool in January.

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