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News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Flu boosts visits to Student Health Center

It’s that time of year when sniffles, coughing and headaches are making the rounds – and causing everyone to think twice about what they touch and where they go. With college campuses being a gathering place for people and germs alike, health services providers at Pittsburg State University are staying on top of what looks to be an area outbreak.

In the last two weeks, PSU Student Health Services have treated nearly 1,000 students, many with influenza, respiratory conditions, and in some cases, pneumonia. Dr. Donald Holsinger, medical director of the center, says despite the overwhelming numbers, the staff members who aren’t falling ill themselves are keeping up with the demand.

“It has been terribly busy,” he said. “In most communities, these things run in a three to six week cycle, and I believe we’re in week three now, so we still have a few weeks to go.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have identified 44 states as having an influenza epidemic this year. Predominately, most of the problems for PSU students have been respiratory and treatable with bed rest, good nutrition, and hydration. Holsinger says the odds of a student (elementary age and up) contracting the illness are greater out in public than in a dormitory.

“By the nature of their social activities and schedules, there’s a better chance they’ll get it somewhere other than where they live,” he said. “I don’t think where a student stays is a risk factor.”

This year’s cases are much more numerous, he says, because influenza is often cyclical. The United States experienced a light infection cycle last year, and CDC reports show it’s a much bigger problem nationwide this year. Some strains have also been resistant to this year’s vaccines and unaffected by medication. Although students at Pitt State have sought treatment in droves, Holsinger says no case has been serious enough for hospitalization.

“We’ve treated a lot who have been moderately ill, and some have been treated at home, but no case has been too serious,” he said. “We’re just hoping it eases up soon.”

For more information on staying healthy this season, go to
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/. Dr. Holsinger can be reached by calling Student Health Services at 620-235-4452.

---Pitt State---