The Flu

Severe Flu Season Considered Widespread

According to this week's FluView report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. flu activity continued to increase in intensity and expand geographically in many areas of the country. The influenza-like illness (ILI) is considered high throughout Maryland, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with widespread geographic activity. The predominant flu strain is the A-H3 strain, which was not included within the 2014-15 flu vaccine.

Flu activity is expected to continue in the coming weeks, and the CDC continues to recommend vaccination as long as flu viruses are circulating and prompt treatment with flu antiviral drugs for people at high risk of serious flu complications. Doctors and health officials advise that getting the flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. Click here for detailed information about the flu. Click here for current information on influenza activity within Maryland.

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What is the flu?

medical syringe

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu is not the same as a cold, although they share many of the same symptoms. The cold is caused by a different virus, and it tends to have milder symptoms than the flu. Colds are also less likely to cause serious complications.¹

Since the flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death the College of Southern Maryland urges everyone to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations to "Take 3" actions to fight the flu:

  1. Take time to get a flu vaccine
  2. Take every day preventive actions to stop the spread of germs
  3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

How does seasonal flu differ from pandemic flu?

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. It is determined by how the disease spreads, not how many deaths it causes.

When a new influenza A virus emerges, a flu pandemic can occur. Because the virus is new, the human population has little to no immunity against it. The virus spreads quickly from person-to-person worldwide.

The United States is not currently experiencing a flu pandemic. If a pandemic occurs, the federal government will work to identify the cause and create a vaccine. Flu.gov will provide updates on the steps the federal government is taking to address the pandemic.

Read more at flu.gov

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How are pandemic H1N1, Avian, and seasonal flu different from one another?

An influenza pandemic can occur when a non-human (novel) influenza virus gains the ability for efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission and then spreads globally. Influenza viruses that have the potential to cause a pandemic are referred to as influenza viruses with pandemic potential.

Examples of influenza viruses with pandemic potential include avian influenza A (H5N1) and avian influenza H7N9, which are two different "bird flu" viruses. These are non-human viruses (i.e., they are novel among humans and circulate in birds in parts of the world) so there is little to no immunity against these viruses among people. Human infections with these viruses have occurred rarely, but if either of these viruses was to change in such a way that it was able to infect humans easily and spread easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic could result.

Read more at cdc.gov

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What should I do if I have the flu?

Students should not attend classes or other college events if they have the flu or a flu-like illness for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating).

Absence of a fever should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine containing ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen).

Such absences will be considered excused absences, provided the students notify the faculty in advance of the absence.

Students are responsible for the material covered during the period of their absence. Students should also be aware that if too much course time is missed the student may be required to take an involuntary withdrawal for medical reasons.

Faculty may have students removed from the classroom if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms and refuse to leave voluntarily.

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What are the differences between the symptoms of the common cold, seasonal flu, and H1N1 virus?

Symptom Cold Seasonal Flu H1N1
Fever Fever is rare Fever is common Fever is usually present with H1N1 in up to 80% of cases with a temperature of 101°F
Coughing A hacking, productive (mucusproducing) cough is often present A non-productive (dry and hacking/ nonmucus producing) cough is often present A non-productive (dry and hacking/ non-mucus producing) cough is usually present
Aches Slight body aches and pains can be present Moderate body aches are common Severe aches and pains are common
Stuffy Nose Stuffy nose is commonly present A runny nose is commonly present Stuffy nose is not commonly present
Chills Chills are not common Chills are mild to moderate 60% of people experience chills
Tiredness Tiredness tends to be fairly mild Tiredness is moderate and more likely referred to as a lack of energy Tiredness is moderate to severe
Sneezing Sneezing is commonly present Sneezing is commonly present Sneezing is not common
Symptom Onset Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days Symptoms tend to develop over a few days. Include flushed face, loss of appetite, dizziness and/or vomiting/nausea.Symptoms usually last 4-7 days, depending on the individual. Diarrhea is also common. H1N1 has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. H1N1 hits hard and fast.Includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.Symptoms usually last 4-7 days, depending on the individual. Diarrhea is also common.
Headache A headache is not common A headache is fairly common A headache is very common and present in 80% of cases
Sore Throat Sore throat is commonly present Sore throat is commonly present Sore throat is not commonly present
Chest Discomfort Chest discomfort is mild to moderate Chest discomfort is moderate Chest discomfort is often severe

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Resources regarding pandemic information

General information:

Tips on traveling with the flu: