Miami University students and faculty, and the rest of the country, have been hit hard with the flu this year.
Hospitals are seeing three times more flu cases this month than the five-year average, and the Cincinnati area has been heavily affected, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Since the beginning of flu season, McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital has had 259 positive flu tests and 22 hospital admissions due to the influenza, said TriHealth spokesperson Joe Kelly.
Although it is harder to measure data for Miami, since students recently returned to campus, Student Health Services has also been treating an increasing number of students, faculty and their families for the flu.
First-year Mady Neal caught the H3N2 strain of the virus before coming back to school.
“I felt horrible. I had a fever of 103 [degrees], and I would alternate between sweating and getting cold chills. I had no energy, and my head was always pounding,” Neal said.
It is this particular strain of the virus that is producing the worst side effects.
“H3N2 seems to be a very strong aggressive strain of the virus, so people are a little bit sicker than with some other strains,” said Cynthia Traficant, practice manager of the Miami Student Health Services.
Neal affirmed this, saying that although she had the flu before, it has never been this bad or lasted this long.
The health center urges students to wash their hands and avoid sharing food or drink in an attempt to stop the spread of the flu.
Symptoms include chills, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and congestion. The early onset of the virus also makes it stand out, as someone could feel fine one moment and feel the full impact of the flu a few hours later.
In addition to typical flu symptoms, this strain can lead to more serious complications such as pneumonia, septic shock and organ failure.
Although flu vaccinations have been said to be only 12 to 30 percent effective this year, Traficant said there are still benefits to the vaccines. Those who have had the vaccine are likely to experience lower complication rates, less severe symptoms and a shorter recovery time.
It is easier to treat the earlier it is brought to attention, and if students come to the center within 24 to 36 hours of noticing symptoms, they can be prescribed medicine, such as Tamiflu, which will relieve symptoms more quickly.
“If you think you’re getting influenza don’t waste time and seek treatment right away,” Traficant said.