Western prepares for flu epidemic

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(Left to right) Marti Burri gives a student a flu shot this winter season.
(Left to right) Marti Burri gives a student a flu shot this winter season.

As the winter season begins to wind down, there are still chances for influenza, also known as the “flu,” to strike.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses and it can cause mild to severe illness, and in rare, severe cases, even death. With so many germs and flu viruses in the air, many students are being exposed, and in result, are becoming severely sick. Marti Burri, RN at Missouri Western’s Esry Student Health Center, has confirmed that the flu virus has not yet hit the Missouri Western campus, at least not in all its glory.

“We have not diagnosed a student with the “flu” this year yet,” Burri said.

This is good news for Western, concerning a flu epidemic. However, the health center is still concerned that the flu epidemic could spread. Anyone who has the flu virus can spread it just by coughing, sneezing, or talking, thus people nearby a sick individual can easily become infected, making the illness very scary.

There are two types of flu vaccines that will help students prevent seasonal flu. One is in the form of an injection, and it is known as a common flu shot. These shots can be administered in a number of clinics and doctors’ offices, as well as in places like Walgreen’s and CVS Pharmacies. The second vaccine comes in a nasal spray, which contains the flu vaccine. One of the biggest risks that comes along with the flu epidemic is that if it hits the residence halls at Western, a huge number of students could be infected in a very short amount of time.

“Students who live on campus are at a higher risk,” Burri said. “Even if they live at home, they are still exposed to the people in the classrooms, cafeteria, etc.”

As a registered nurse at Missouri Western, Burri is taking special precautions to prevent a flu epidemic from weaseling its way into this school semester. According to her, getting this crucial information out to students and faculty is the best way to ensure the flu epidemic doesn’t spread throughout the university.

The Student Health Fair and the Esry Student Health Center offer free influenza vaccinations throughout the school year and also provide hand sanitizers. Burri’s tips for college students during this flu season are to avoid close contact with people who are ill, to drink plenty of water, to stop smoking, to eat healthy foods, and to invest in receiving a flu shot. Morgan Hoover, Student Assistant at Missouri Westerns Esry Student Health Center, feels that as a student, the flu affects school work.

“The flu makes you exhausted and can affect other students,” Hoover said.

Hoover also recommends to students that practicing good hand washing and covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing will also help to prevent students from getting ill this year.
Along with Hoover, Angie Beck, RHIT at Missouri Westerns Esry Student Health Center, recommends that students get flu shots yearly.

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