CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s Student Health Services diagnosed its first two cases of influenza Tuesday. These patients had classic influenza symptoms, according to Dr. Phillip C. Histand, director of Student Health Services.
“These were the first cases we have seen this academic year,” Histand said.
Flu vaccine is still available for faculty, staff and students, and will be available as long as supplies last. The campus community can stop in at Student Health Services (SHS) from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to receive their vaccination.
A campaign last fall to encourage the campus community to get vaccinated resulted in more than 2,000 individuals getting flu shots through OSU clinics and SHS; additional faculty, staff and students likely got shots at locations outside the university.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Between five and 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu each year. Of those, around 36,000 people die from the flu annually. Typically, the very young and very old, and those with certain health conditions such as asthma or diabetes, are the most likely to receive complications from the flu.
Flu symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms including nausea and vomiting can occur but are more likely in children.
The flu virus is spread through coughing, sneezing or touching objects that carry the virus on them, like doorknobs, and then touching your mouth or nose. People are infectious a day before symptoms develop and up to five days afterward. Washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth when you cough, and refraining from touching your eyes or nose are good ways to help prevent the spread of the flu. However, the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
There have been no reports of pandemic flu this year so far.