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Flu virus spreading across campus

As the flu season progresses, several Oklahoma Christian University students have fallen ill over the last few weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Feb. 15th activity of the flu had reached a new season high nationwide.

“According to this week’s FluView report, seasonal influenza activity increased again this week, reaching a new season high,” the CDC said. “Influenza activity, predominantly driven by influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infections this season, is widespread in 48 states and Puerto Rico, and influenza-like illness (ILI) levels have reached 4.8 percent. Flu activity is similar to what has been seen during other H1N1-predominant seasons, but remains well below what was observed last season.”

Several students, including senior Liz Mussett, reported recently being unable to go to class or leave their rooms due to flu-like symptoms.

“On Mondays, I have one morning class, required Honors symposium for class and chapel credit, and work the whole rest of the day,” Mussett said. “I missed all of those, all my classes for the rest of the week and work on Wednesday and Friday. I went back to classes and work the following Monday, but it was still horrible. I felt as though I was operating at 60 percent, but my Mondays require 100 percent.”

Mussett said she is thankful her professors worked with her to give her time and grace through her sickness.

Other students expressed their own stress over being set back from the sickness. Junior Loren Pendergrass said although her professors were patient, February is not an ideal time to get sick at Oklahoma Christian.

I was bedbound for about four days straight and went back and forth from a 99 to 103 [degree] fever,” Pendergrass said.  “There were many times my roommates had to help me accomplish simple tasks like walking to different rooms.  Because of how sick I was, I was unable to attend any of my classes all week or work on any homework to try and stay caught up.”

Now trying to catch up in her classes, Pendergrass said she has regrets about choosing not to get the flu shot this year.

“Now that I’m feeling better, I’m a week behind, and it’s super stressful,” Pendergrass said. “My professors have all been very helpful with trying to get me caught up, but it really hasn’t changed my stress level.  With Spring Sing in full swing, me trying to get caught up and staying on top of current assignments is proving very difficult.”

These cases are not isolated to the Oklahoma Christian campus. According to the CDC, Oklahoma is one of 26 states which have shown high influenza-like illness activity, adding the most severe cases are found within at-risk age groups.

“Since October 1, 2018, 6,868 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported,” the CDC said. “This translates to a cumulative overall rate of 23.8 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the United States. The highest hospitalization rate is among adults aged 65 years and older (64.1 per 100,000), followed by children younger than 5 years (36.8 per 100,000) and adults aged 50-64 years (32.5 per 100,000). During most seasons, adults 65 years and older have the highest hospitalization rates, followed by young children.”

According to the CDC, one way to protect against the flu is the annual vaccine and argues there are benefits, which extend beyond the prevention of sickness.

“An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against influenza and its potentially serious complications,” the CDC said. “There are many benefits to vaccination, including reducing the risk of flu illness, doctor’s visits, hospitalization and even death in children. Flu vaccination also has been shown to reduce the severity of illness among people who get vaccinated but still get sick. For anyone six months or older who have not yet been vaccinated this season, CDC recommends that they get vaccinated now.”

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