Week one of winter quarter, the UC Santa Cruz Student Health Center was overwhelmed with the highest number of influenza cases since 2010.
The peak season for the annual flu is November- March, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Symptoms include high fever and a dry cough lasting 7-10 days. Nationally, the 2017-18 season is already considered moderately severe. Since October 2017, the CDC has reported 28,264 confirmed cases, compared to 56,000 cases in an entire severe flu season.
“Nationally and in California we have seen a very early flu season,” said Beth Hyde, family nurse practitioner and patient care coordinator at the Student Health Center. “I think what we are seeing on campus reflects state and national rates.”
While this year’s dominant flu strain, H3N2, is more resistant to vaccination, Hyde said, students who receive the vaccine tend to have shorter and less severe symptoms.
The Student Health Center administered a record of 2,638 flu shots as of Jan. 16, but does not have an accurate number of cases representative of the entire campus.
Vaccinations are still available and free with the UC Student Health Insurance Plan. Providers highly encourage all campus affiliates to wash their hands and cover their mouths when they cough. Students who are sick should isolate themselves for at least 24 hours. Returning to campus or work is not encouraged until fever symptoms have subsided for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication.