SAU Buzz

Covering All Your Bases, Not Just Your Coughs

by Moira Stephens
Posted on Feb 02, 2018

It’s causing the sniffling and suppressed coughs in class that do not go unnoticed. This year’s strand of the flu, Influenza A, has already gotten a lot of attention worldwide.

This year’s case of the flu has been fatal for 30 pediatric patients, and has resulted in over 8,900 hospitalized patients since October 1, 2017.

The flu is spread through contact with droplets from an infected person.  When a person coughs or sneezes, droplets from their mouth and nose hit the air at nearly 100 miles per hour. If an infected person around you is about to sneeze or cough, lean back away from them and wash your hands as soon as possible after.

“The trouble with making a vaccine is predicting what strand will be strong that particular season,” Dr. Jim Harizon of University of Illinois Health Systems said. “The best thing to do is lay off the alcohol-based hand sanitizers and use soap and warm water for 25 seconds.”

Alcohol-based cleaners kill off good bacteria and weaken the body’s immune system in the long run.  After coming in contact with heavily touched items such as doorknobs, sick knobs, desks, railings, or even credit card touchpads, avoid contact with the face until your hands have been washed.  The influenza virus cannot penetrate the skin, but can enter the body through any openings on the face: nostrils, mouth, and eyes.

“Keeping a clean atmosphere is a good way to avoid the flu,” Harizon said.

Doing laundry regularly is also helpful, especially winter scarves, gloves, and hats after every use.  Scarves are typically close to the mouth and nose and can trap germs that escape covered sneezes or coughs.

“Make sure your work area or desk, is clutter-less and used tissues make it into a garbage can,” Harizon said.

Symptoms of the flu include headache, congestion, fever, vomiting, and fatigue.  If any of these symptoms stick out, see Nurse Nancy in the Rogalski Center. Drink lots of water, up vitamin C intake, and be sure to cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.