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Flu season starting early after spike of cases at Clemson


If your classes have looked emptier lately, it may be because there has been an increase of people coming down with the flu.
That’s according to George Clay, the executive director of student health services at Redfern Health Center at Clemson University.
“We’ve been averaging about four cases a day for the last week and a half,” Clay said. “We typically do see a few cases of the flu at the beginning of the year, but this is more than usual.”
Although Clemson is seeing cases of the flu more often than usual at this time of year, Clay says students don’t need to worry about an outbreak.
Normally, the flu season starts in December and Redfern starts seeing cases in mid-January. 
“During a regular seasonal flu outbreak, we’ll see 10 to 20 [cases] a day until the early spring. Usually it’s the spring break that breaks the cycle,” he said.
Clay also said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not reported any new strains of flu, similar to the HINI virus in 2008. 
“That really hit college students hard; we had hundreds and hundreds of cases,” he said. 
Part of the reason for the irregular number of cases, Clay said, could be a result of student travel for study abroad programs.
Students coming back from the southern hemisphere, which is just coming out of its winter season, may have unintentionally brought back symptoms with them. This would expose students here to new flu symptoms, ones that they haven’t had the chance to build up a resistance to yet.
So how can you protect yourself from getting it in the first place? The vaccine is still the best way, Clay says.
He added that if you come to Redfern with flu like symptoms, they will offer you Tamiflu, an antiviral medicine that can shorten the length of time students have the flu and the severity of symptoms.
Other ways to avoid the flu, according to Clay, are “regular hand washing, avoiding other people who are sick and keeping the hands away from the eyes, nose and throat.
Other than that, drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest and stay away from class for at least 24 hours after the fever has subsided.”
Despite Clay’s urging students to get vaccinated, some students say they won’t.
Ben Pritchard, a senior Industrial Engineering major, is one of those students who said he will not be getting the vaccine.
“Washing your hands and being smart about who you interact with is the best way to avoid the flu,” he said.  

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