Flu season has officially arrived, this year hitting the Rogue Valley both earlier and harder than in recent years. The winter sickness has been strengthened by a reappearance of the H1N1 virus, referred to commonly as ‘swine flu’, which is particularly worrisome for college students. However, this is not the time to panic according to Dr. Lora Robin, D.O., MPH, at the Southern Oregon University Student Health and Wellness Center.
Robin says that while this year the flu appears particularly serious, the clinic is “well prepared to accommodate students” with available flu shots and medication. She reminds students that it is not too late to get a flu shot, potentially helping to avoid weeks of sickness. Other preventative care measures include washing hands frequently and remaining cautious of germs that can be spread in communal spaces such as dining commons or dorm rooms.
If a student believes he or she has already contracted the flu, the clinic recommends staying at home as much as possible and simply letting the body rest, along with drinking lots of fluids and trying to stay away from others. If the sickness progresses to a serious stage with symptoms such as such as trouble breathing, students are advised to contact medical personnel or seek other medical attention from a clinic or hospital.
The H1N1 virus first appeared in the U.S. in 2008, and has since broken out in the country sporadically. It is different than most strains of the flu in that it not only affects children and the elderly, but it also targets young adults from ages 18 to 25. This makes it particularly serious for college students, who should take note and be on alert this season.
Robin believes the flu has appeared so quickly at SOU this season because as students return from winter break from various areas of the state and nation, they bring back different strains of flu with them. The worst of the flu season typically lasts about 3-5 weeks, and this current outbreak has lasted roughly three weeks so far. Robin sees the worst cases tapering off relatively soon. Caution is still in order, however, because flu seasons can be very unpredictable and volatile.
For more information, visit the SOU Student Health and Wellness Center near Cox Hall and pick up a flyer or make an appointment to speak to one of the nurses or doctors. Flu shots are available for $15 at the center.