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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Late flu season comes in time for finals

Late flu season in Arizona has the potential to last until the end of the semester and into finals.

In the past month, Campus Health Service has recorded 23 cases of the flu, only a fraction of the more than 77 cases reported last week in Pima County, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“Because it is hitting late, it might get people towards the end of the semester,” said Lee Ann Hamilton, assistant director of Health Promotion and Preventative Services at Campus Health. “And that can pose some major challenges in classes if they are out of school.”

Hamilton said that while these reported cases are a good indicator, it only represents the number of people who were given flu tests at Campus Health and tested positive. Because about 50 percent of students use Campus Health, there could be more students with the flu symptoms that have not been recorded. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed flu trends in Arizona as moderate with a slight increase of activity in March.

“When people get the flu, they feel like they have gotten hit with a ton of bricks,” Hamilton said. “We’re talking having a high fever, sweats, chills, coughing and extreme fatigue.”

With flu season peaking late this year, some students are concerned it might affect their studying for finals. Lauren Pierce, an elementary education sophomore, said she has been avoiding visits to her parents’ house in Oro Valley because her family has contracted the flu in the past two weeks and she does not want to get sick during the last month of classes.

“I have been very paranoid about getting the flu,” Pierce said. “When I’m sick, I am not a happy person because it prevents me from being able to do so many things.”

Faculty and staff also think this late flu season might interfere with students’ studies and class participation.

Monte Ralstin, musical director and vocal coach for the School of Theater, Film and Television said three years ago a late flu season resulted in a fair number of his students getting sick during their final theater performances of the year.

“Last fall we had a performance of the ‘Secret Garden’ and during our last show, the main performer got sick and in between breaks had to run off stage to a little bucket,” Ralstin said. “And as we always say, the show must go on.”

Some of the things the Theater Arts program does to prevent sending sick students on stage is enlisting the help of understudies and encouraging students to be healthy, Ralstin said.

“This a big concern because our students work 12-hour days,” Ralstin said. “And with the flu arriving late, we are telling our students to get rest.”

To avoid contracting the flu, Hamilton recommends getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water and, more importantly, washing your hands on a regular basis. She also said it is not too late for students to get a flu shot. Campus Health offers influenza vaccines for $15 that can also be charged to a student’s bursar’s account. Hamilton also said if a student thinks they have the flu, they should try to prevent spreading it to others.

“It takes about two weeks for a shot to kick in and it looks like we are going to see flu cases lots of weeks to come,” Hamilton said.

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