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Don’t let the flu get the best of you

Influenza virus or “the flu” is a common upper respiratory infection. It often starts with a headache, body aches, chills and a cough or sore throat. These symptoms are quickly followed by fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, runny nose, and sneezing. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur.

The flu is easily spread from person to person through contact with droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air by someone who is already sick. It can also be spread by shaking hands with an infected person, or touching a contaminated surface (e.g. a doorknob), and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Most people who get the flu will recover within seven to 10 days. However, people with chronic illness such as asthma are at increased risk of developing more severe complications from the flu (e.g. pneumonia).

The flu can lead to missed time from work or school. At university, students who get sick may have to miss classes, quizzes or midterms, hand papers in late and even delay exams. If this happens, you should contact your professor ASAP. Students requiring medical documentation should contact the UNB Student Health Centre to book an appointment right away. The UNB Student Advocate on campus is available to assist students with more complicated requests for academic deferrals.

Although the flu is very contagious, it is also very preventable. There are many things that you should do in order to prevent illness caused by the flu virus. Getting a flu shot every year is one of the most effective ways to prevent catching the flu and spreading it to others. Flu shots are now available at the Student Health Centre and are being offered at various locations across campus for all students, faculty and staff.

A full schedule can be found on the Student Health Centre webpage.

The flu shot costs $15 for students & $25 for staff and faculty — a very cheap investment in your health. You may even qualify for a free flu shot — ask how when you come to get yours. We can only accept cash or cheque at the time of the injection. Be prepared to wait 20 minutes after your injection.

You can also do your best to avoid the flu by washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available; not touching your face — most of the time the flu virus enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth; and coughing and sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, not your hand please. If you use a tissue, throw it out right away and again, wash your hands. Cleaning and disinfecting common areas like doorknobs, light switches, and keyboards is also important.

Some viruses can live on hard surfaces for as long as two days. If you get sick, stay home and rest until you feel better. Water, fruit juices and soups can help to prevent dehydration. If you are very sick, and you are not sure what to do, call Telehealth at 811 to speak with a registered nurse.

No one wants to let the flu get them down. Following these simple strategies can help you to prevent flu, minimize interruptions to your studies, and help you reach your goal of academic success at UNB.


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