Berry experiences widespread flu outbreak

Saif Sarfani, Campus Carrier Staff Reporter

In the wake of the recent flu outbreak, Berry has strengthened its preventive measures in the Health and Wellness Center to help contain infections, along with increased efforts in residence halls to clean surfaces and stairwells more frequently.  There has been a significant rise in flu cases in Georgia and the U.S. recently, prompting individuals to get flu shots and stay away from those who are sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13 Georgians have died because of the disease, and 450 have been hospitalized as a result of their symptoms.

Last year, the Ladd Center reported nine cases of the flu, compared to this school year, when at least 77 cases have been reported. Only one or two students have needed further medical attention after receiving initial treatment. The increase in students getting sick is due to exposure to the flu virus and ineffective vaccinations. According to the CDC, 48 percent of vaccinations have been proven to be effective this year.  Since December 2014, the CDC has received reports from multiple states regarding laboratory-confirmed influenza infections in persons who have “paritosis,” which is the swelling of the salivary glands.

                                 Graphic by Chelsea Hoag, Managing Editor

Though the U.S. experiences flu epidemics each year, the CDC’s influence surveillance systems have seen a higher number of cases reported. 

“We have seen those who had the vaccine this year come down with the flu anyway.  There are several strains of flu and even a vaccine at its best cannot cover them all,” Anita Errickson, director of the Health and Wellness Center, said. “Also responsible is the mutation, which occurred in one of the strains since the vaccine was developed for this year.  Each year a prediction has to be made regarding the type of flu likely to be seen the following year.  Then the vaccine takes months to produce and cannot be altered once in production.”

Many students have recovered from the flu, but some continue to suffer. The outbreak has caused many students to miss schoolwork and sports practice. 

“I got the flu around last Thursday. I doubt I still have it. It was my choice not to get the flu vaccine. I received a flu shot before coming to school,” freshman Alton McCloud said. “None of my friends are showing symptoms. I did go to the Ladd Center and the process was quick and very beneficial. I’m glad I went because it was very helpful.”

Sophomore Brooke Brogdon got the flu about three weeks ago and did not get the flu vaccine beforehand.

“I had bad aches and had to go straight to bed after class while I was sick,” Brogdon said.

She was prescribed Tamiflu after going to the Ladd Center to check her symptoms. She had to take the medicine in pill form for twice a day for five days. Luckily, her insurance covered the majority of the costs. Brogdon said over half of her entire swim team got the flu and it damaged her season, but not too bad academically because it was at the beginning of the semester when classes were just starting to get tough.

“I needed to get back into the pool and in classes so my dad encouraged me to get the medicine as soon as possible,” Brogdon said. “The nurse tested me for flu, mono and strep (throat) because that was what was going around in the group of people who I hung out with.”

In order to prevent more cases from arising, Errickson advised students to wash their hands more often, avoid close contact with those who cough and sneeze, get plenty of sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of rest and exercise. 

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