Early flu epidemic spreads nationwide



Photo by Linzy Heim.

The inevitable and dreaded flu season has rolled around once again but unfortunately sooner and deadlier than usual.

This year’s flu season is the earliest in almost a decade and is anticipated to be bad one. According to the article “Flu Season: 2012-13 By the Numbers: How Bad Is It?” The Centers for Disease Control reported a total of 22,048 flu cases, compared to last year’s 849 cases, broke out between Sept. 30 and the end of 2012.

The H3N2 virus is the main culprit in this year’s seasonal influenza. Nebraska, in the moderate range, is not nearly as bad as the 21 states considered in the high range. Much of the 21 states include the Southern and Eastern regions.

Luckily, School Nurse Cindy Gengel is not seeing an influx of students with flu-like symptoms at Bellevue West so far.

“I can’t say I’ve seen an awful lot of difference here,” Gengel said.

People suspected of having the flu at school are “quarantined” so to speak. They are put in the back room of the nurses office, out of the reach of other staff and students, because of airborne transferring, until they can be picked up by a parent or guardian.

“For students that have the flu, staying home until you are fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medicine like tylenol or ibuprofen is advised,” Gengel said.
Common warning signs of the flu include sudden headache, fever, cough, throat aches, fatigue, body aches, and congestion.

According to walgreens.com the CDC now recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive the flu vaccine every year.

“The flu shot is designed to provoke the immune system to attack antigens (foreign molecules that the immune system specifically recognizes as alien and target for attack) found on the surface of the virus,” according to walgreens.com.

Some side effects of getting the shot are redness, soreness, or swelling at the injection sight, along with a slight fever and aches. Most effects usually last one to two days after receiving the shot.

“[The flu shot] takes about two weeks to fully protect against viruses,” Gengel said.
Students and staff struggle every year to stay immune to the virus. Junior Katie Begley was one of the many students who contracted the flu and had to miss two days of school.

“While I didn’t get to learn much at school, I absorbed some very useful detective skills after watching 30 hours of Law and Order SVU,” Begley said.

Linzy Heim
Website Photo Editor and West Wind Reporter