It’s that time of year when washing your hands and covering your mouth are emphasized more than ever by doctors, family, friends and strangers. It’s flu season.
Paul Erwin, head of the University of Tennessee’s Department of Public Health, said influenza has been paying a visit to UT’s campus since the beginning of January.
The flu can be spread in a number of ways, but it most commonly spreads by not washing your hands after sneezing or coughing. “The classic [example] is I sneeze, I hand you a book, you grab the book from me,” Erwin said.
While sneezing does not always indicate the flu, health experts recommend people take every possible precaution to avoid catching an illness.
One precaution is to avoid hanging around people who show flu-like symptoms. This becomes increasingly difficult, especially as a college student, because often times this could mean not attending classes. However, this “just really promotes the spread of the flu,” Erwin said. which is why students should visit the Student Health Center, and stay indoors as an effort to control the spread of illness.
“One of the biggest challenges of stopping the spread of the flu,” said Erwin, “is that people who are sick can often start transmitting the virus even before they themselves begin to feel ill or show any signs of the virus.”
Health experts advise getting vaccinated against the flu every season.“The chief benefit of the flu shot is that it decreases your chance of getting the flu,” said Erwin.
For those who currently have the flu, a flu shot is recommended. Getting vaccinated is not just a benefit to the inflicted, but is also a benefit to the public.
Erwin expects that the flu will continue to over-stay its welcome for another month or so. Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to continue to follow standard precautions, washing hands frequently after touching doors and other common surfaces.
Edited by Nichole Stevens