Health & Wellness Update: Influenza and Norovirus
Flu season is off to an early start this year. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has noted a significant increase in the incidence of influenza (flu) in our region. Influenza is now becoming widespread through much of the country. We are also seeing an increase in Norovirus, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Both illnesses are easily spread from person to person. As students return to campus, we expect to see an increase in both illnesses.
Student Health Services recommends the following precautions to prevent these illnesses:
- Get Vaccinated! Student Health Services has a limited number of flu vaccines available for FREE. You can also visit your local pharmacy or health department to receive a flu vaccine.
- Wash your hands! Wash your hands with soap and the hottest water you can before eating, after the restroom, and as soon as you return to your residence hall or home. Wash them for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. No access to soap and water? Use alcohol based hand sanitizer!
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. This is how the germs get into your body!
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. After you cough or sneeze, wash your hands!
- Keep your immune system in top shape! Get 7-8 hours of sleep, exercise at least 3 times per week, eat well, manage stress, and avoid alcohol.
- Keep your living area clean! Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones, faucets, garbage cans, etc.
If you do become ill:
- STAY HOME! Rest at home until you are fever free for at least 24 hours without medication (for flu like symptoms) or stay home until you are feeling better (for severe diarrhea and vomiting). If you can’t get home, stay in your room.
- Student Health Services recommends all students who become ill go home to rest and recover to prevent the spread of illness on campus. If you can’t get home, self isolate in your room to avoid getting others sick.
- Call the Health Services! If you start feeling sick, call Student Health Services to speak with a nurse. We can provide you with information in order to take care of yourself! 610-436-2509
- Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration). Sick people with the flu need to drink extra fluids to keep from getting dehydrated. Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine in them such as colas, tea, energy drinks and coffee.
- Treat fever with medicines you can buy at the store such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Use these medications according to the package directions. Don’t drink alcohol and take medicine.
- If you get very sick or are pregnant or have a medical condition that puts you at higher risk of flu complications (like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV or AIDS), call your doctor. You might need antiviral medicine to treat flu.
- If you have a sore throat, gargle with salt water 3-4 times a day (mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water). You can also suck on ice chips or frozen popsicles to numb your throat.
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu–like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
If any of these occur, go to the nearest emergency room. If you don’t have a way to get to the emergency room and you are on campus, call Public Safety (610-436-3311). If you are off campus, dial 911.
When you start feeling better:
- Get a new toothbrush.
- Wash your sheets and pillow cases.
- Give your room/apartment a good cleaning! Don’t forget surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones, faucets, garbage cans, etc. This will help prevent the spread of flu to your friends and family and back to you!
- Get back to your healthy habits. Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, exercise 3-4 times per week, manage your stress, eat 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies, and stay hydrated.
Additional information about influenza and norovirus can be found on the following webpages:
Centers for Disease Control: Influenza
Centers for Disease Control: Norovirus
Pennsylvania Department of Health: Influenza