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Health services offers information on 2013 influenza season

Allen Sabatino, health services coordinator
Allen Sabatino, health services coordinator, checks supplies in the office in the physical education building.

Flu season is now in full swing across the United States and Pennsylvania with cases reported in all counties of the state. The influenza season began early and is now blanketing the country with widespread activity in 47 states.  Penn State Hazleton’s Health Services Office is offering information on the 2013 influenza season along with some preventive measures. 


Allen Sabatino, MSN, FNP, NP-C, health services coordinator, says, “We have seen some cases of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) over the past two week since students returned for the spring semester.” 


The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Following is information to help students, faculty and staff recognize and cope with symptoms of the flu:

  • Influenza is a respiratory virus and therefore cannot be cured with antibiotics. 
  • Primary symptoms include:
  • fever/sweats/chills
    • fever may last as long as 7 days and may range from 99 – 105 degrees 
  • cough
  • body aches (which may be excessive at times)
  • headache
  • fatigue (may last as long as 1-2 weeks after the illness has cleared)
  • Other symptoms may include:
  • sore throat 
  • congestion
  • stuffiness
  • runny nose 
  • nausea and vomiting (seen more so in children than adults)
  • Incubation Period
  • The incubation period of influenza is 1-4 days with an average of 2 days.
  • Adults may shed (pass the virus on without showing symptoms) the virus 1 day before symptoms begin up to 5-10 days after the onset of symptoms. 
  • Transmission – two primary modes of transmission
  • Airborne droplets suspended in the air after an individual with influenza sneezes or coughs.
  • Self-inoculation – a healthy person touches a surface that has the influenza virus on it (desk or doorknob) and then transfers the virus to themselves by touching their face, mouth, eyes or nose.
  • Prevention
  • Influenza vaccination – Health Services will be offering influenza vaccines beginning 1/14/2013 until supplies last.
  • Recommended for EVERYONE 6 months or older
  • High risk individuals
    • 65 year and older, pregnant women, individuals with chronic illness such as asthma, diabetes, immune disorders, etc…
  • Nursing home patients

 

  • Cover your mouth with a tissue, your hands or sleeve after you cough or sneeze
  • Wash hands or use antiseptic hand wash frequently (at least 6-10 times a day)
  • Before and after you prepare food and before you eat
  • After using the bathroom
  • After you cough or sneeze
  • After caring for another sick person
  • Remember that whatever you touch has already been touched by another person.
  • Treatment
  • Antiviral medication may be used to decrease the severity of influenza symptoms but is not meant as a curative treatment. 
  • Antiviral medication should be initiated as close to the onset of symptoms as possible and is most effective when initiated 1-2 days after symptoms have begun.
  • Symptomatic care
  • Rest
  • Fluids 
  • Management of fever/headache/body aches with Acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s)

Sabatino added, “Students experiencing flu symptoms may call Health Services at 570-450-3029, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for an appointment or information on influenza.”

Additional information on the flu is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

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