Flu season strikes University students

Flu season is coming to an end but allergies are still going strong.

In an article posted by National Public Radio, Lyn Finelli, Lead of the Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in 29 years, this is the slowest start to a flu season.

Judy Lyle, health educator said Health Services has only seen one case of the flu this year.

The normal flu season runs from December until the end of March.

Lyle said Murray State is following the national trend and has not been majorly affected by the flu this year.

“The warm weather beginning so early and more people are getting their flu shots and being more cautions,” Lyle said.

She said the severity of flu season is random, due to the severity or the virus. Some years will be moderate, while other years will have high flu counts.

“It has been a very mild flu season,” Lyle said. “That’s not typical; usually we have more than just one case of the flu.”

She said the reason for such low numbers were more students were taking precautions prior to flu season.

Lyle said students should be aware of the differences between a cold and flu.

She said a cold usually has a low-grade fever or none at all, with some aches and a runny nose, while flu symptoms are more prominent.

“Some flu symptoms are a fever of 100-102 degrees, headaches, achiness, extreme fatigue, stuffy nose sneezing, sore throats and chest discomfort,” Lyle said.

She said if you are experiencing some of the primary symptoms then a visit to Health Services would be a good idea.

“Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands,” Lyle said. “Careful hand washing and taking a flu shot is the form of best prevention.”

She said flu shots are available at any local pharmacy for approximately $20.

Lyle said visits to Health Services in the spring and fall for allergy-related symptoms are very common and frequent.

“This year, because of the early blooming season, I expect that we will have an increase in visits due to allergies,” Lyle said.

Health Services is open Monday-Friday 8-11:15 a.m. and Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 12:45a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

“Pollen is small and can be like little tiny cactus’s when it gets in the eyes and up the nose,” Lyle said. “The immune system fights by producing antibodies.”

Histamines cause most of the familiar symptoms of allergies: sneezing, runny nose and itchy, red and swollen eyes.

“These responses normally are used by the body to rid itself of a threat,” Lyle said.

She listed many ways for students to reduce the effects of pollen: maximize time outdoors when pollen counts are lowest, wash hands and face frequently throughout the day to reduce the pollen collected on your skin and don’t rub eyes and nose.

Ryan Alexander, sophomores from Hardin, Ky., said since returning to campus from spring break his allergies have been horrible.

“I take two steps outside and I automatically can’t breathe,” Alexander said. “My eyes get red and I sneeze continuously.”