Influenza Frenzy

Worst flu season since 2009

Influenza Frenzy

Gracia Lantis , Online Media Editor

So far this influenza season, 40 people statewide have died from flu-related illnesses, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

In North Platte, health officials say that the virus has been especially hard hitting. “This is the highest [mortality rate] we’ve seen so far in several years,” Disease Surveillance Coordinator Angela Brown said.

According to Brown, there are two common types of the flu: Influenza A and Influenza B. Within the two types, there are several strains. But, both types show the same symptoms. “General population will get a higher infection of influenza A, but it seems that our kiddos or long-term care facilities will get the flu B,” Brown said.

Influenza is a respiratory virus. “A lot of people will say that they have the flu if they have stomach issues, but that’s the stomach flu, that’s not this kind of flu,” Brown said.

There are several symptoms associated with influenza. “Sore throat, coughing, sneezing, congestion, runny nose, headache, body aches, chills, and fever are some common flu symptoms,” School Nurse Jewel Hampton said. A person is contagious while showing symptoms of the virus, and will remain contagious for about a week.

One reason that the virus is so detrimental is because of its ability to spread quickly. “[The flu] is spread by droplets of body fluids that have the influenza virus in them,” Hampton said. “Because it’s so easy to pick up, and because everybody picks it up so fast, it spreads so fast and so there’s so many people getting the flu this year,” Brown said.
“If you think you have influenza, I would say to get evaluated by a doctor. Get lots of rest, lots of hydration. Preventing secondary infections is really important,” Hampton said.

Both Hampton and Brown agree that the number one way to avoid the flu is to get your vaccine. Hampton said “Getting your flu vaccine every season is crucial. Even if you still get the flu, if you’ve had the vaccine it will help decrease the severity of symptoms and the number of days that you experience the flu symptoms.”

The flu has also had an impact on students. Junior Leslie Barnett said, “I feel like school should be canceled for a good day or two because there are a lot of students missing school.”

Many students are worried that taking sick days will cause them to fall behind in school. “Don’t punish kids for staying home and trying to get better instead of spreading [the flu],” junior Amber Tidyman said.

As far as having the flu goes, most would agree it’s anything but enjoyable. “[influenza] is not fun to have at all,” freshman Peyton Neff said. “I’m ready for influenza to be gone.”