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Health officials offer flu advice to returning students

Officials tell returning students that their best weapon against the flu virus is already in their hands -- good hand washing.

Nearly 7,000 students returned to the Pittsburg State University campus for the start of the spring semester Monday, including more than 1,200 who live in PSU’s six residence halls. Among other things, the return of the students means lots of opportunities for this year’s influenza virus to pass from one person to the next.

Officials in PSU’s Bryant Student Health Center say the students’ best weapon against the virus is already in their own hands.

“Good hand washing is vital in helping prevent the spread of the flu,” said Carrie Farrington, a nurse practioner at the student health center. “Influenza is a respiratory illness that is spread through respiratory secretions so preventing contact with others’ secretions will decrease a student’s chance of developing the illness.”

Farrington said anyone who may have the flu can do their friends and fellow students a favor by doing everything they can to keep from spreading the virus to others.

“An ill student should avoid contact with others during the illness,” Farrington said. “Do not go to class or work when ill with a high fever or influenza-type illness. Students should not return to class until they have been fever free for 24 hours. The ill person should also practice good hand washing and covering of coughs, sneezes and respiratory secretions.”

Generally, Farrington said, otherwise healthy persons are able to manage flu symptoms at home with over-the-counter medicines.

“Get plenty of rest,” Farrington said. “Drink a lot of liquid such as water, juice, and non-caffeinated beverages. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help control fever and discomfort and decongestants may help relieve a runny nose.”

Farrington said students who are ill or who are concerned about the flu my contact the Bryant Student Health Center.

“We’re happy to see any students who are ill or concerned about the flu,” Farrington said. “We can do influenza testing to confirm the presence of the virus. We can also help differentiate between the influenza illness and other respiratory illnesses.”

And, Farrington added, the student health center does have a limited supply of the influenza vaccine on hand.

“It is not too late to receive the vaccine,” Farrington said, “but we would encourage any who wish to get it to do so as soon as possible in order to achieve the maximum benefit.”

For more information, including links to information about influenza, visit the Bryant Student Health Center website at www.pittstate.edu/health or call 620-235-4452.

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