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Flu-like cases in triple digits, double from last year

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Student Health Services has seen 150 influenza-like student illnesses since the first of January, more than double those the health center saw over the same period last year.

“The flu is very wide spread this season throughout the country and here at UAlbany,” said Dr. Robert Pulling, chief of patient services at the student clinic. “None of our students have had any serious complications to my knowledge.”

Health services reported 67 students with influenza-like illnesses in 2017, according to numbers university spokesman Jordan Carleo-Evangelist provided Thursday.

Carleo-Evangelist stressed that the reports aren’t confirmed cases of influenza.

“Student Health Services does not test every person who exhibits flu-like symptoms for influenza,” said Carleo-Evangelist, “in part because the CDC advises that rapid tests for influenza can be less accurate during peak flu season.”

Several students spoke about their experiences getting the flu on campus.

“[Urgent care] prescribed me a medication,” said Carly Ward, a sophomore social welfare major who had the flu at the beginning of the month, “but apparently so many people had the flu at that point that the CVS across the school on Western ran out.”

CVS declined the ASP’s requests for comment.

Ward said that she had never gotten illnesses like pneumonia or the flu until her freshman year of college.

“It was one of those things where you don’t really want to get out of bed,” said Ward. “My throat was really sore but just because I was coughing a lot. It felt like a cold on steroids.”

The higher flu-like cases at UAlbany reflect a particularly powerful flu season in several years for the United States.

The Center for Disease Control reported on Friday the national percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses was 6.4 percent, surpassing the peak reported for the 2014-15 flu season.

The number of child deaths associated with influenza so far is 97, which is lower than the 148 total reported for the 2014-15 season.

Campus dining hall’s food pick-up service for sick students has been used 36 times since October. The “Sick Meals” program allows students to send their ID card with a friend to the dining hall, where they can pick up a boxed meal.

Students can pick up a box containing tea bags, dried soup mix, and Jell-O free of charge. Full entree boxed meals deduct a meal from students’ plans.

At Alumni, Indian, and Colonial’s dining halls, one, nine, and four sick meals were picked up respectively. Students picked up 28 sick meals, all in January and February, from State Quad’s dining hall according to University Auxiliary Services.

“We actually recommend anyone with flu like symptoms to stay at home to limit the exposure to others, unless there are serious concerns such as difficulty breathing, or if they desire to be treated with Tamiflu,” said Pulling. “General recommendations are rest, drink lots of fluids and take Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain and fever.”

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Joe Hoffman is the managing editor for the Albany Student Press.

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