Students warned about flu epidemic

The flu has taken a toll on the nation this year, creating a pandemic that measures up to the Swine Flu outbreak in 2009, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stevenson students Julie Burnett and Sarah Seen get their flu shots. The flu strains this year have continued to impact even healthy populations. (Photo by Maya Murphy)

According to Julie Sanz, assistant director and nurse practitioner at Stevenson University’s Wellness Center, “The flu season is projected to run into late March/early April.” It is important for students to understand how to stay healthy for the weeks to come.

Sanz said that students can most easily protect themselves from the flu virus by washing their hands and using hand sanitizer from one of the various hand sanitizer stations located in most Stevenson buildings, or pick up a small bottle of sanitizer from the Wellness Center.  Students should also cough or sneeze into their sleeve or elbow to keep from potentially infecting other students.

The most preventative thing a student can do is to get the flu shot.  Although the flu shot clinics sponsored by the Wellness Center have concluded, students can go to any retail pharmacies, like Walmart, Giant, Wegmans, Rite AidCVS, or Target, to receive a flu shot.  The vaccine is free with most insurance plans.  Sanz said that the flu vaccine is not a perfect match to protect people completely against the flu, but for those who still contract the flu after receiving the shot, symptoms will be less severe and should last a shorter period of time.

Students who believe they have the flu should contact the Wellness Center and set up an appointment, according to Sanz. In the event that the Wellness Center is closed or there are no appointments available, those feeling sick should go to the closest Urgent Care facility. An Express Care is located on Owings Mills Boulevard, and a Patient First is located on Reisterstown Road.  Students should also stay hydrated by increasing their fluid intake, such as drinking water or tea, and take fever-reducing medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed on the bottles.

According to Sanz, “The Wellness Center does not carry Tamiflu, but can prescribe it when indicated after having a conversation with the patient about the risks, benefit and side effects of the medication.”

For further information regarding the flu and staying healthy this semester, visit the Wellness Center in the Caves Sports and Wellness center located on the Owings Mills campus, or contact the Wellness Center for an appointment at 443-352-4200.

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