Virginia Department of Health reports first pediatric flu death of the season

Grant Boone
February 14, 2020

A minimum of five students a day test positive for influenza at the University Health Center, according to Brandy Sitzman, practice manager at the University Health Center. This is congruent with flu trends around the state.

Connie DeBenedet, Hamilton's infectious diseases program manager, says the current infection rate as of February 10 sees 500 lab-confirmed influenza A cases - the more serious strain of the virus - and approximately 120 lab-confirmed influenza B cases, which is "typical" for any given year over the last decade.

Sitzman said students should stay home until they have been without a fever for 24 hours without medications like Tylenol or Advil.

Other precautions, according to DeBenedet, include washing hands often with soap and warm water as well as covering coughs and sneezes.

Lewis and Clark Public Health and St. Peter's Hospital are offering flu shots.

Anyone who thinks they have the flu should immediately contact a doctor to see if they need treatment with a prescription antiviral drug. Insurance can be billed, but students will be required to bring a front and back copy of their insurance card.

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The easiest way to avoid the flu, said Gerrard, is simple: Get a flu shot.

Just three weeks ago, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department counted 301 cases of flu.Then the number skyrocketed to 669. Influenza-like illness is in widespread, high activity with 50 influenza-associated deaths this season in Indiana.

Flu shots do not make someone immune to influenza, according to the CDC. "Likewise, anyone who lives with or cares for an older adult should take steps to prevent getting the flu and passing it to those around them".

The university sent an email January 31 regarding both the flu and coronavirus.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency late last month.

Loeb goes on to say side effects from getting the vaccination are typically mild and connected to the needle itself. "There is still time to protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season".

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