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Influenza virus is on the rise

BY Kiana Hughes & Sarah Cirelli

The current 2017-2018 flu epidemic has caused a large number of Americans to fall ill; making this year the worst flu season since 2013-2014 when H1N1 and H3N2 infected Americans, according to The New York Times.

The disease has affected over 86,000 so far. In the 2014-2015 flu season, 710,000 people were hospitalized, and the director of the CDC’s influenza division told The New York Times that he expects a similar number for this season. So far, over 12,000 people have been hospitalized since Oct. 1, according to the CDC. Unfortunately, there are still weeks ahead until the flu season traditionally ends.

Despite the seriousness of the flu epidemic this year, some students are not concerned.  

“Personally, I’m not scared of the flu. I have only had it once before, and haven’t gotten it since,” said Larissa Simon, sophomore advertising and public relations major.

However, the flu is contagious and spreads easier than many believe.

According to the CDC, the flu may be passed to someone else before the individual even knows they are sick. An infected individual can spread the illness through the air to others from less than six feet away by coughing, sneezing or talking. Individuals can also promote the spread of the flu by touching their noses or mouths and then touching objects and surfaces.

The common symptoms of the flu include: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. The CDC recommends you should seek a medical examination within 48 hours of any of these symptoms and you may not always have a fever.  In order to protect yourself and to protect others this flu season there are many initiatives you can take to avoid spreading it or becoming infected.

According to Dickey Health and Wellness Center, some of the ways to prevent the flu include getting vaccinated, avoiding close contact with sick people, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

The Dickey Health and Wellness Center still has the flu vaccine in stock, and highly recommends that everyone gets vaccinated.

Some students do not take certain safety precautions for themselves and others, such as receiving the vaccine, that is so highly recommended by the CDC and UT. After having the flu for a month despite getting the vaccination, Emily Roche, sophomore education major, said she is never getting the flu shot again.

However, the CDC provides many explanations for why a person may have become infected despite getting the vaccination. One could be exposed to the virus shortly before being vaccinated or shortly after being vaccinated, before the vaccination starts working. There are also strains of the flu not covered by the vaccine, according to the CDC.

Other students are taking simple precautions to protect themselves from becoming infected this flu season.

“I carry around my Bath & Body Works hand sanitizers, because they are easy to attach to a purse or backpack,” said Angelina Yearwood, a junior education major.

Visit https://www.ut.edu/healthcenter/ for more information as the flu season progresses, to make an appointment for a flu vaccination, or test if you believe you may be infected.

You can reach the writers at kiana.hughes@spartans.ut.edu and sarah.cirelli@spartans.ut.edu.

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