KENT, OH (WOIO) - As Kent State students prepare to begin spring semester class on Monday, Jan. 14, students are encouraged to be aware of the seriousness of the current flu strain.
Students who have flu-like symptoms are strongly advised not to attend class or other public events during the time of their illness. Students who need to miss classes or assignments due to flu-like illness are advised to contact their professors as soon as possible.
"We just want to make sure that our students stay healthy," said Todd Diacon, Kent State's senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "If students have flu-like symptoms, we'd rather they stay home and get better and make up the classwork."
The Ohio Department of Health reports 1,922 influenza-associated hospitalizations in the state as of Jan. 5, 2013, compared to only 86 at the same time last year.
While most people with influenza recover quickly, it can cause severe illness, hospitalization and even death. Typical symptoms are fever, cough, headache, sore throat and body aches. Students, faculty or staff members who experience a flu-like illness should rest, drink fluids and take over-the-counter pain relievers and cough medicines as needed.
"Patients are often surprised by how very ill they feel with influenza," said Dr. Angela DeJulius, Kent State's chief university physician. "Prescription antiviral medicines can sometimes help to reduce the duration of illness, but are not a cure. The flu usually lasts at least a week."
To prevent influenza and to reduce the spread of illness through the community, flu shots are recommended for all individuals over six months of age. It is not too late to get a flu shot, and it is always recommended to practice good hygiene, especially hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill with a fever.
"It is not too late to be immunized, as flu season often continues into February or even later," DeJulius said.
A limited number of flu shots are still available at University Health Services. Many local pharmacies are also offering the vaccine.