Health Center reports uptick in students with flu-like illness

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It's not too late to get vaccinated.

KALAMAZOO—Seasonal influenza has arrived at Western Michigan University, and clinicians at the Sindecuse Health Center are seeing an influx of students with flu-like illnesses.

Students, faculty and staff experiencing a combination of fever, chills, coughing, headache, sore throat and muscle aches may be infected with the influenza virus. People in specific age categories or those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications.

Individuals considered at risk for complications of influenza should see a medical provider at the onset of symptoms, as treatment with antiviral drugs may be necessary and should be started within 48 hours of becoming ill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has information on health factors associated with increased risks for influenza-related complications.

People experiencing influenza symptoms without known risk factors generally do not require medical care or antiviral drugs. Important self-care steps to take toward recovery include drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and using acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever or muscle aches.

The CDC recommends that people with influenza stay home and avoid contact with others unless medical care is required. To prevent spread of infection to others while ill, individuals are encouraged to cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently, and avoid returning to routine activity until being fever-free for 24 hours.

There is still time for WMU students, retirees, employees and eligible dependents to receive an influenza vaccine through Sindecuse Health Center. Walk-in hours for immunizations are Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. as well as Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.