Influenza

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Cold and Flu Season Brings Steady Stream of Patients to Campus Clinic

A persistent cough and runny nose are just about as prevalent in late January as heavy coats and high electric bills.

At the Bedie Smith Clinic on the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi, physicians, nurses and support staff have seen a steady stream of patients suffering from cold and flu-like symptoms.

“Yes, we have been busy here but that’s not unusual for this time of year,” said Dr. Virginia Crawford, director of Student Health Services at Southern Miss. “Some of the patients we’re seeing need antibiotics but most do not. The majority just has to wait it out and can take some over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms.”

Crawford noted that certain decongestants, such as Sudafed, require a doctor’s prescription, therefore patients needing that type of medication should come to the university clinic.

This time a year ago Crawford and her staff were treating a massive outbreak of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus that eventually became a global pandemic. Fortunately, the 2011 influenza season is producing a more familiar challenge.

“This is not a new strain of flu that we’re seeing this year,” said Crawford. “It is primarily the Influenza B virus that is easily covered by the flu vaccine.”

Crawford’s advice for those who have not received a flu shot? “Wash your hands often and see a doctor if you have a fever, body aches or a severe cold.”

While the cold and flu season typically reaches its peak in January and February, the virus can linger well into springtime. The flu vaccine is still available at the Bedie Smith Clinic. For more information call 601.266.5390 or visit www.usm.edu/healthservice/

Flu Prevention efforts at JCJC deter the ‘bug’

JCJC sophomore, Brianna Tally (right) takes advantage of the free flu vaccines offered to students. The flu prevention program was initiated by Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Pictured giving Tally the vaccine is JCJC LPN student Alex Pippen of Laurel.

ELLISVILLE – The flu may be creeping into the Pine Belt, however because of the efforts of Phi Theta Kappa students at Jones County Junior College, the bug may not be as prevalent this year.  The honor society chose to focus on the prevention of the influenza virus as its annual Honors in Action project.

“Last year with the H1N1 scare, everyone got more serious about influenza. Being on a campus with 6,000 other students we’re all touching door knobs, and sitting at desks together.  It’s really easy to spread germs,” said PTK president, Justin Sumrall of Laurel.  “On a college campus you need to be careful and you need to know the precautions you can take.  That’s why it is so important to get the word out there.”

PTK combined forces with the JCJC Health Center employees, administration and JCJC’s nursing students to ‘squash’ the bug from spreading on campus.  Their efforts included hosting a free flu prevention workshop featuring Mississippi State Department of Health Medical Officer for District 8, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, a germ demonstration focusing on the proper hand washing techniques and offering flu vaccines to everyone on campus.

“I think Dr. Dobbs’ presentation has helped some students learn how to prevent getting sick.  I know the flu shot works because I have gotten the shot before,” said Diondrae Reddick of Waynesboro.

Hand sanitizers can also limit the spread of germs, and were distributed to students on campus after seeing a germ demonstration.  Health officials recommend thoroughly scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.  Some students were surprised to still see germs on their hands.

“This demonstration will make me think every time I wash my hands,” said Verneshia Heidelberg of Laurel.

“I think students will heed the advice after seeing this shocking demonstration. There will be those who won’t do what they need to do however,” said Karen Lott of Greene County.

Sophomore JCJC student from Sylva Bay, Brianna Tally took advantage of an offer she couldn’t refuse.  The first 300 students were given free vaccines and faculty and staff were given vaccines at a reduced cost.  “The vaccine is better than getting the flu,” said Tally.  “After listening to Dr. Dobbs I was convinced this was one of the best prevention methods.”

Good information was another prevention method PTK students utilized.  They created a flyer describing symptoms of the flu and prevention methods. The flyers were available at area pharmacies and on campus.

“Of all the projects that Phi Theta Kappa could have chosen, this project was one with very tangible and immediate benefits for our student body,” said PTK sponsor, Julie Atwood.  “It was informative and provided opportunities for everyone to protect themselves, and others from contracting this illness.”

Because the project was so successful, PTK members may make this an annual event on campus.

JCJC’s PTK hosts State Department of Health ‘Flu Prevention’ presentation

ELLISVILLE – With flu season upon us many are trying to avoid the annual ‘bug’. To help prevent the flu on campus, Jones County Junior College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society is hosting a free flu prevention workshop featuring Mississippi State Department of Health Medical Officer for District 8, Dr. Thomas Dobbs. The public is invited to attend the presentation on Friday, October 22, at 10:30 a.m. in the Home and Health Services Auditorium at JCJC.

“This is one of our major endeavors for the chapter’s Honors in Action project on the prevention and spread of the influenzae virus,” said PTK advisor, Carol Bergin. “In addition to this presentation, hand sanitizers will be distributed to students, and we will provide an opportunity for JCJC students, faculty, and staff to receive flu vaccinations the first week of November.”

JCJC Health Center employees will be on campus doing a special ‘germ demonstration’ on Wednesday, October 27 from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m. Nurse practitioner Diane Spruill and paramedic Kristen Register will be demonstrating the effectiveness of hand sanitizers outside the Student Success Center in the library. For more information contact Julie Atwood at 601-477-4053.