This flu season’s strain, H3N2, seems to be the worst flu virus this country has seen in recent years. It is highly contagious and is spreading quickly.
According to The Washington Post “This year’s flu season is already the most widespread on record since health officials began keeping track 13 years ago, and has already caused the deaths of more children than what normally would be expected at this time of year.”
Nearly 12,000 people have already been hospitalized by the virus, and there have been almost 40 pediatric deaths since the beginning of the flu season last October.
To help protect yourself from picking up this virus, which is typically inhaled through the mouth or nose, MJHS’s registered nurse, Leigh Knowles, suggests that you cover your mouth when you cough, don’t share food, bottles or chapstick and always wash your hands.
Nurse Knowles recommends that you wash your hands after you use the bathroom, before you eat and anytime you touch a door handle.
“Every teacher should have GermX in their classrooms. The GermX does work for flu germs.”
As the flu virus is very easily spread from one student to another, you should stay home until you are fever-free for 24 hours, without treatment from medication.
If you are not feeling well before school and you have a fever above 100.0, you do not need to come to school.
“When you have a fever, it’s really important that you get the rest that you need and go to the doctor,” said Nurse Knowles.
If you begin to feel sick at school, you should go see Nurse Knowles before contacting a parent or guardian.
“I need to be able to take their temperature and do a mild assessment. Then we can call parents from here and see what they want to do.”
Flu symptoms to watch out for include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.
The flu affects children and the elderly the worst because they have weaker immune systems, but even completely healthy teenagers and young adults are at risk of catching the flu. Recovery time can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the case.
It is difficult for doctors to determine what strains will be circulating, so the flu vaccine is typically only 60 percent successful. This year, however, the flu vaccine is only about 32 percent effective. This is the same as last year’s vaccine. Even so, Nurse Knowles advises that everyone still receive their flu shot.
“Always get your flu shot. Even if it doesn’t keep you from getting the flu, it should help you from getting a lesser version of the flu.”