Ole Miss prepares for flu season

Posted on Sep 21 2017 - 8:00am by Rachel Ishee

With classes in full swing, students at Ole Miss are beginning to get sick, and this outbreak of illness has many worried about catching the flu later this fall.

Dr. Travis Yates, director of University Health Services, said he normally starts seeing an increase in student illness around this time of the school year.

“The viral upper respiratory type illnesses do increase starting the second and third week of school, and we can expect that to continue through the rest of the semester,” Yates said. “The reason for that is just multiple exposures to many students who are ill all across this campus of 20,000 students.”

Yates advises students to wash their hands frequently and avoid contact with sick people.

“If they are sick, just don’t expose yourself to them if that is possible to do,” Yates said.

Getting a flu shot is also a good way to help prevent illness.

David Thomas and Emily Johnson pose for a photo after she gives him a flu shot in the Circle on Wednesday. Photo by Wilson Benton

Students from the pharmacy school vaccinated students Wednesday in the Circle, something they plan to continue throughout the semester.

“We do this every year,” pharmacy student Katie Bruchman said. “We do several locations, and we try to pick the high-volume areas at different times of day and at different locations around to get as many people as possible.’

She said students have been thankful for the opportunity to quickly get vaccinated between classes.

“We’ve had students who’ve said that they didn’t have time to go to the pharmacy or make an appointment at the doctor’s office, and this is just easy and on the way to class,” Bruchman said. “It only takes about five or 10 minutes.”

Yates said there are several routes students can take if they feel themselves getting sick.

“If you think you’re getting sick, you need to hydrate yourself very well and use Tylenol or ibuprofen for the aches and fever. You can get over-the-counter medication for congestions, cough and things like that,” Yates said. “Any pharmacy would have recommendations for you, including the pharmacy at the Student Health Center. They have a variety of things that they could help you with.”

Yates said he hasn’t yet seen the flu on campus but is expecting to very soon.

“Cold and upper respiratory is a majority of what we’re seeing right now,” Yates said. “Congestion, sore throat, cough and fever, but not the flu.”

“The CDC has actually come out and said that (flu vaccines) are not typically recommended to be given this early, but they are this year because there are already schools in Mississippi that are seeing the flu on their campuses,” Bruchman said.

Yates said a recent flu outbreak at Southern Miss has led people to start preparing.

“We’ve seen several people that kind of clinically presented as the flu, but their flu tests were negative,” Yates said. “We’ve not had flu on campus yet, and I’m expecting that to start up most any time now.”

Avery Gault, a senior political science major, said she’s been sick with a cold for more than two weeks.

“I’ve only been sick once, but I’m still recovering from it,” Gault said. “I’ve literally been sick for, like, two-and-a-half weeks. I had a really bad cough, sore throat, a runny nose and chills and aches. I didn’t go to the doctor because I knew it was just a cold, and so I just took Tylenol Cold and Flu to alleviate the symptoms.”

If students do experience cold- or flu-like symptoms that are accompanied by a fever, Yates said they should see a doctor.