GC Student Health Services staff has diagnosed more than 150 students with the flu, breaking previous records and making this the worst flu season in GC history.
Student Health Services Director Alice Loper said that this outbreak is the worst she has seen in her 47 years in the medical field.
“The number of cases is phenomenal,” she said. “We have been diagnosing 30 to 35 cases of the flu a day.”
The specific flu strain, known as H3N2, continues to spread across the United States. Common symptoms include high fever, body aches and severe cough.
Junior Duncan Williams, a computer science major, was the first patient at GC diagnosed with the flu during the 2017-18 school year.
“I had a feeling I had the flu after looking at symptoms online, but the nurse told me no one had been diagnosed with the flu yet,” he said. “After she took the flu test, the nurse came in and diagnosed me as patient zero at GC.”
The Health Center’s protocol states that immediately following diagnosis with the flu, a student should not to come to campus until they are 24 hours fever free. For many students, a flu diagnosis could mean falling behind in their classes.
Sophomore Megan Doritty, a pre-nursing major, missed an entire week of school when she caught the flu.
“It was really stressful because you miss a lot of work, and if you already are struggling in a class, then you fall even more behind,” Doritty said.
Senior Jordyn Jones, a marketing major who also holds an off-campus internship, caught the flu right at the beginning of the semester.
“I had a bunch of tests coming up, I was wrapping up all these projects, and I had presentations the following week,” she said. “Most of my teachers were understanding, thankfully, but it was still very stressful.”
Although the outbreak seems pervasive, students can protect themselves in several simple ways.
“The number one thing you can do is get a flu shot,” Loper said. “The vaccine will decrease your chances of getting the flu by 20 to 30 percent.”
In addition to getting their flu shots, Student Health Services encourages students to take precautions at home to protect against the flu. Students should regularly wash their hands, keep a travel hand sanitizer in their backpack and disinfect commonly touched surfaces, like phones and computers.
GC also advises students who feel sick to stay at home and not come to campus to reduce the risk of spreading the virus further. Teachers have been notified not penalize their students for missing class if a student tells them they have the flu.
The Student Health Services clinic will be extending its hours to 8 p.m. each night of the week of Jan. 29, due to the rapid increase of students visiting it daily.
“We can only hope that this flu outbreak peaks soon,” Loper said. “It’s got to.”