T.U. Medical Bulletin: Flu (Influenza) Alert 

 

Flu (Influenza)

A common, highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus.  Incubation after exposure is 24 - 48 hours.  There are three main types of influenza (A, B, C) but they have the ability to mutate into different forms.  Outbreaks of different forms occur almost every winter, starting commonly in September or October, with varying degrees of severity.  Influenza affects both sexes and people of all ages.

Symptoms of the Flu

The following are the most common symptoms of the flu. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Influenza is called a respiratory disease, but the whole body seems to suffer when a person is infected. People usually become acutely ill with several, or all of the following symptoms:

  • high fever
  • headache
  • cough, often becoming severe
  • severe aches and pains
  • fatigue for several weeks
  • sometimes a sore throat
  • extreme exhaustion 

Treatment for Influenza:

Specific treatment for influenza will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent and type of influenza, and severity of symptoms
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference 

The goal of treatment for influenza is to help prevent or decrease the severity of symptoms. Treatment may include:

  • medications to relieve aches and fever (Aspirin should not be given to children with fever without first consulting a physician.)
  • medications for congestion and nasal discharge
  • bed rest
  • increased intake of fluids and antiviral medications - when started within the first two days of treatment, they can reduce the duration of the disease but cannot cure it. A physician must prescribe all of these medications. 

Consult your physician for more information.

PREVENTION MEASURES:

  • A new influenza vaccine is introduced each September. It is usually recommended, for specific groups of people (as well as for persons who want to avoid having the flu.) 
  • A nasal-spray flu vaccine, called FluMist, is currently approved to prevent flu due to influenza A and B viruses in healthy children and adolescents (ages five to 17), and healthy adults (ages 18 to 49). As with other live virus vaccines, FluMist should not be given for any reason to people with immune suppression, including those with immune deficiency diseases, such as AIDS or cancer, and people who are being treated with medications that cause immunosuppression.

Following these precautions may also be helpful:

  1. When possible, avoid or limit contact with infected persons
  2. Frequent handwashing may reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of infection.
  3. A person who is coughing or sneezing should cover his/her nose and mouth with a handkerchief to limit spread of the virus.
  4. In addition, certain antiviral medications are approved for use in preventing the flu. All of these medications are available by prescription, and a physician should be consulted before any medication is used for preventing the flu.

For more information, contact:

STUDENT HEALTH SERVICES
Bioethics Center # 235
Tuskegee University AL 36088
Phone: 334-727-8641