Flu season is upon us, and the student body has been suffering its consequences.
However, Director of Student Health Services, Kristina Benkeser, believes it has to do with the campus being an incubator for disease and students not taking care of themselves.
“It’s kind of like the perfect storm,” Benkeser said, “If only one of those things were going on, then overall health would probably be good. But, because all of those things are going on, then we have a recipe for illness.”
The Student Health Center has had 2,389 visits in the past four weeks.
The amount of flu cases this year have already surpassed the amount of flu cases reported for the entire academic year last year.
There are 69 confirmed flu cases, and 34 positive strep throat cases so far this academic year. These numbers don’t take into account the students who had the flu or strep but didn’t go to the Health Center.
The most common reported symptoms are breathing problems, sore throat, nasal congestion, cough, headache and nausea.
Benkeser said unfortunately there isn’t much students can do besides wait it out and treat the symptoms they are experiencing.
Symptomatic care includes gargling with salt water, using nose drops, taking cough drops and many more.
Maintaining a clean environment is just one way students can prevent illnesses in the future.
“Mom wasn’t crazy when she said to take the Clorox wipes and wipe down the bathroom, doorknobs, night stand, cell phone and keyboard,” Benkeser said.
Benkeser said students should get into the habit of washing their hands frequently and making sure it is for 20 seconds.
“I watch people [wash their hands] in the bathroom,” Benkeser said. “Yes, they are washing their hands, but it’s like an Olympic game to see who can get done the fastest.”
Benkeser said students that have a fever should isolate themselves in their own space for the sake of other students on campus.
“Take one for the team and isolate yourself in your room,” Benkeser said. “No going to class, no social activities, no going to the Arc.”
Benkeser said students should monitor their temperature, treat their symptoms as they come, wash their hands for 20 seconds, keep their hands away from their face and get a flu shot.
Benkeser reminds students to keep their personal stuff personal, like straws, toothbrushes and eating utensils.
“Anything with your spit on it would qualify as personal stuff,” Benkeser said. “It helps cut down on the transmission of disease.”
Interim Provost Jerry Chmielewski sent an email to SRU faculty on Feb. 27 to let them know that students have been experiencing fever and flu-like symptoms, and the faculty should work with these students until they recover.
Chmielewski said the medical staff at the Health Center advise students to self-isolate, so some students may not be attending class.
He said not only will this help the students recover faster, but it protects the rest of the university from being exposed to it.
“Faculty play an important role in maintaining the public health of our campus,” Chmielewski said, “We recommend you work with your students who develop the flu and encourage them to stay away from class if they have a fever or display other flu-like symptoms.”