CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Students are back from winter break, returning to their dorms and classrooms, and there's a chance some of them could bring back the flu. Coastal Carolina University is on a mission to keep the illness from spreading across campus.
The dominant strain of the flu this season is H1N1, according to the CDC. It primarily strikes healthy young and middle age adults. It is also the most common case caught on CCU campus.
CCU officials saw the biggest flu spike in the fall semester, with close to 60 positive tests for the flu, about three times the number of cases last year.
Already this morning, on the first day of classes, nearly 10 students reported flu like symptoms.
"High fever, you tend to get with the flu, but also the extreme exhaustion, the body aches, extreme fatigue..we've had students come in with nausea, vomiting," says Caesar Ross, CCU Director of Student Health Services.
All it takes is a sneeze or a cough to spread, and confined areas, like a college campus, are a common place to catch the virus, which is why CCU is pushing the "three tier approach," prevention, surveillance and intervention.
Prevention is a step everyone can take part in. At CCU it includes vaccinations, to both students and staff. The university has administered about 400 vaccines, and is holding a clinic towards the end of January.
Along with prescriptions, sick students are provided the proper tools for prevention, such as a care bag, and staff is staying on top of the issue.
"In our care bag we have ibuprofen, we have chicken noodle soup, we have Gatorade, tissues, hand sanitizers," says Ross.
It's important to take measures to protect yourself and those around you. Cough into your sleeve or a tissue, and wash your hands often. If you're sick or feeling flu like symptoms, stay home for at least 24-hours.
Look for the differences between a flu and a cold. When analyzing your symptoms, keep in mind the acronym, "facts," fever, aches, chills, tiredness and sudden on-set.
The CDC expects high levels of flu activity to continue in the next few weeks. Flu season can last until May. They say as long as the virus is spreading, you should strongly consider getting vaccinated.
Illnesses have hit 35 states, up 25 from the previous week, and January and February are when flu cases usually heighten.
The CDC ranks flu activity as, high, moderate, low or minimal. South Carolina falls among six other states in the moderate level, North Carolina flu activity is high. The latest numbers from DHEC show South Carolina with nine flu related deaths since September. There have been 21 flu related deaths in North Carolina and 19 of those have been young and middle age adults, most of whom, had underlying medical conditions.