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Ways to avoid getting and spreading the flu epidemic in what’s expected to be one of the worst seasons ever

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By: Joe Mauricio

 

editorialThe flu was officially declared an epidemic in the United States last week, according to the most recent report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, 5.8 percent of the population have visited their doctors to treat the virus, which is as high as the flu patients proportion gets during the most severe part of the worst flu seasons, according to the CDC. The flu has spread to 49 of the 50 states, with the exception being Hawaii.

Given this outbreak, we’d like to remind Penn State students to take the recommended precautions to limit your chances of getting the flu. And for those students who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, we’d like to provide you with some resources and things you should know so you don’t spread the virus.

1) Wash your flippin’ hands! OK, we know everybody knows the best way to avoid spreading germs via hand-to-hand contact (either directly or indirectly) is to regularly wash your hands, more than just after going to the bathroom and before eating. Run your hands under clean water, either warm or cold, scrub them together for 20 seconds and then dry them completely.

2) Dress appropriately State College winters aren’t pleasant. Dress appropriately for the cold and wet weather to limit your chances of illness. Invest in a ‘fracket’ if you want to wear shorter clothing at indoor parties.

3) See a doctor As soon as you start experiencing noticeable symptoms that are affecting your daily routines, visit a doctor to see if what you’re feeling is the flu. Those symptoms could be a fever that lasts for 3-4 days, aches, chills, fatigue and weakness, sneezing, sore throat, stuffy nose, chest discomfort, coughing, or headaches. You don’t have to have all of these symptoms to have the flu.

4) Don’t tough it out If diagnosed, make sure you stay home from class and all other scheduled events. Take the time you need to recover and let the virus run its course. Do what the doctor says to recover as efficiently as possible, but don’t return to your regular routine until you’re completely better. Otherwise you risk the symptoms getting worse and a longer recovery process.

Also, if you have the flu, don’t try to tough it out. Even if you physically can go to class, work or any other activity, you’re still contagious and can spread it to someone who might experience more severe effects of the virus.

Do us all a favor and stay home. We don’t want to get the flu. If you’re afraid you will be penalized for missing class, get a doctor’s note. The flu is considered a significant, prolonged illness, and therefore, your grade will not suffer, though medical documentation from either a University Health Services or outside clinician is required.

5) Stay away from children, the elderly or those with a weakened immune system.

This one is important for all of you who will be participating in THON. While you might feel healthy enough to attend the 46-hour dance marathon, you could still spread your illness to the THON children with pediatric cancer. Their immune systems are significantly weaker than those of us without cancer and the flu could be fatal for them.

We know a lot of THON participants dedicate so much of their time throughout the year for that one weekend. But remember, THON isn’t about us, it’s about the kids with cancer and finding a cure for the disease. Spreading the flu to them does the opposite of helping them recover. Opinions Editor Matt Martell can be reached by email at mtm5481@psu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @mmartell728.

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