Dodging flu season: symptoms and prevention

Shannon Coughlin

The flu clinic that was offered by the Student Health Center on Oct. 20 left some students wondering about the start of flu season and what to expect this year. With the constant hype about the avian bird flu that has been discovered in Eastern Asia, preventing the flu has become a high priority that many students need to be informed about.

Kathryn Macaione, the Director of Student Health Services, recommended that every student who has the opportunity should attend one of the university’s flu clinics and receive the vaccine. She noted that college students who live in very close contact with each other receive poor nutrition and get very little sleep are at an elevated risk for contracting and spreading the virus. Also, students with chronic diseases, especially asthma and diabetes, are at an even greater risk of contracting a more severe case of the flu and should make sure that they receive a flu shot at some point in the upcoming weeks.

Macaione, who is planning another flu clinic to be hosted at Quinnipiac on Nov. 9, stressed the importance of getting the flu shot. “We are the only university in the state that offers flu vaccines at no cost to students, staff and faculty,” Macaione said. She also said that the staff at Quinnipiac prioritizes the health of their students over that of the cost of purchasing enough of the vaccine. She also stated that Quinnipiac president, John Lahey, had also been very adamant in his support of helping to immunize the campus against the virus.

In addition to getting one of the vaccines offered by the clinics, there are many other ways to prevent contracting the flu this season. Macaione recommends that students wash their hands often with soap and water, using hand sanitizers if possible. Also, staying hydrated is very important. Every student should try to drink at least eight classes of water a day to give the body the proper fluids necessary to prevent infection. Getting proper nutrition may also be an important preventative measure. Leafy, green vegetables that are found in salads have many vitamins and nutrients that can help boost the immune system against viral infections. Another way to boost the immune system is to exercise regularly and to get plenty of rest. Coughs and sneezes should be muffled with tissues to prevent surrounding people from getting sick.

When you start to feel stuffy, how can you tell if you’re getting a cold or the flu? Macaione states that a fairly low fever will be accompanied by a low-degree fever, a slight cough, a stuffy nose and headaches. The flu, however, would have a higher fever over 100 F, as well as chills and painful body aches.

Both of these illnesses cannot be cured by medicines nor antibiotics. Instead, simple rest, proper nutrition, and water are necessary in allowing the virus to take its course. Also, if the symptoms of the illness persist for more than three or four days, Macaione recommends visiting the Student Health Services Center, where the nurses can administer medication to ease the symptoms and provide some comfort, even though they cannot cure the illness.

Dr. Poma assured that the so-called “bird flu” is no concern to students of the United States at this point. However, he advised that any students that have traveled to Asia and return with flu-like symptoms should consult Student Health Services or their local doctor immediately.

Macaione says that, so far, there has not been a substantial increase in students that have been visiting the Student Health Services Center with flu-like symptoms. However, the season is early and it is very difficult to predict how the new flu strains will affect Quinnipiac students, especially in such close quarters. For this reason, Macaione insists it is important for all students to try to attend a flu clinic and receive the vaccine. For more information on the next flu clinic, please visit