The Cox Health and Counseling Center received its first case of influenza on December 12, just before winter break. By the end of February, seven cases had been reported.
On March 29, students received an email from Associate Director of Health Services at Kenyon Kim Cullers, warning them of the recent uptick in influenza cases at the College. Cullers sent a second email on Tuesday laying out further instructions for students suffering “classic” flu symptoms.
According to Cullers, this increase matches the rise in influenza across the country. As flu season has intensified, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported an extensive number of cases in 20 states, including Ohio. Common symptoms of the flu include sudden onset of fever, chills, body aches, fatigue and cough. “The course of influenza is variable, but generally lasts five to seven days,” Cullers said.
While the Health Center offered flu vaccines earlier this year, immunization is not necessarily a safeguard against the illness. The vaccine has proven only 50 percent effective against this year’s strain, influenza A. Culler suggests that students with chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes or autoimmune diseases should pick up prescriptions at the Health Center for the antiviral medication Tamiflu, which can shorten the duration and severity of symptoms if taken within 48 hours of detection. Cullers hopes that a Health Center diagnosis will not be necessary for every student. Instead, she suggests students who suspect they have contracted the flu self-isolate “until they are without fever for 24 hours.” Students are also advised to drink fluids and get plenty of rest, take over-the-counter medications and to have food brought to them by friends and family whenever possible.
Cullers said that students should reach out to a medical professional if they are experiencing: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse, seizures, not urinating, severe weakness or unsteadiness or recurring fever or cough.
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David Kim P'22
Kudos to the Health Center for being proactive in the annually inevitable duel with the flu. However, the comments "immunization is not necessarily a safeguard against the illness" and "the vaccine has proven only 50 percent effective" betrays the fact that the vaccine is THE BEST safeguard against influenza and that, at 50% effectiveness (or even less), the vaccine prevents millions of illnesses, tens if not hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths in the United States each year. Additionally, there's been a disconcerting, late season resurgence of influenza in 2019. The Health Center should promote and offer influenza vaccine to students, faculty, and staff throughout the season and frequently publish helpful reminders such as this article to help ensure a healthy campus through the long influenza season.
Reply to David Kim P'22