Flu season is upon us and the Health and Wellness Center wants the SMC Community to be prepared and informed about this public health concern.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age or older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year is best. Flu shots given in the fall should cover you until next fall.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Flu Spread?
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The symptoms of the flu in people include fever and chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose or congested sinuses, body aches, headache, and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Severe illnesses and death have occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.
The vast majority of cases are mild and, at this point, the flu appears no more virulent or severe than most seasonal flus. The flu does seem to be more frequent in children and young adults because those who are younger than 50 years of age have not yet had contact with similar viruses.
What should I do if I get flu like symptoms?
Start with rest, lots of fluids and good nutrition. You may take over the counter medication for some symptom relief. If symptoms are worsening, seek medical attention immediately. If you have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, asthma, heart or lung problems, a weakened immune system or pregnant, please consult your physician or the Health and Wellness Center as soon as possible. The SMC Health and Wellness Center is open 8:30am-4:30pm Monday-Thursday and 9:30am-4:30pm on Friday.
The CDC recommends that people “self isolate” and stay at home until 24 hours after body temperature is back to normal or less than 100 degrees without using medication that would lower the temperature. We encourage students to come to the Health and Wellness Center if they develop any of the above symptoms for evaluation. A mild, lingering cough may occur. Barring any other flu symptoms, this cough should not prevent student from returning to class.
Graduate students, faculty, and staff are to seek medical attention and counseling from their own primary care physician.
How long am I contagious?
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Are there medications to take once I get the flu?
The treatment for this illness is primarily supportive, including rest, home remedies and over the counter medication to relieve symptoms. Tamiflu, an antiviral medication, is prescribed for individuals with severe symptoms, chronic medical condition or suppressed immune system. Tamiflu for influenza is not a cure, it only reduces symptoms and decreases length of recovery time.
What are the complications of flu?
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
How can I prevent the flu?
We strongly encourage all members of the SMC community to take the standard precautions adopted during the flu season—and to play an active role in our public health prevention efforts.
Some of things you can do to protect yourself and decrease the spread of disease include:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol based hand gels, located at most common areas on campus
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
- Adequate rest
- Good nutrition
- When possible and safe, increase ventilation in your place of residence.
- Avoid large crowds in small spaces when possible.
- Self isolate if you develop flu like illness
- Do not share food, drinks or utensils
Students and parents who have questions may contact the Health and Wellness Center at 925-631-4254. Thank you for your efforts to keep all members of the Gael Family in good health. Although we can’t eliminate the spread of this virus, our collective efforts can significantly minimize its reach and overall impact.