The University Health Center sees multiple cases of influenza and occasional chickenpox (varicella disease) every year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people—such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions—are at high risk of serious flu complications. Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. Chickenpox can be serious, especially in babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems such as pregnant women. It may spread easily from infected people to others who have never had chickenpox or who have not received the chickenpox vaccine.
The best way to help prevent flu and chickenpox is by getting vaccinated. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. Students can obtain vaccines at the University Health Center, from their health care provider, or at a pharmacy. The influenza vaccine needs to be repeated yearly. Chickenpox vaccine is very effective, and after a two-dose series is completed typically does not need to be repeated.
The CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions to help slow the spread of communicable disease. These actions include:
- Stay away from people who are sick.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Wear a mask when sick with cough/cold symptoms.