Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Two basic types of virus circulate in the United States, group A and group B. Influenza A may cause moderate to severe illness in all age groups and infects humans and other animals. Influenza B causes milder symptoms and affects only humans, primarily children.
The University of Connecticut Student Health Services encourages members of the university community to continue to practice flu prevention techniques. We communicate regularly with Eastern Highlands Health District (EHHD) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health with regard to influenza prevention and treatment recommendations. It is recommended that you visit the following websites for information on prevention, self care, treatment and the status of local and national efforts to address influenza.
- Seasonal Flu (Connecticut Department of Public Health)
- Flu.gov (U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services)
- Seasonal Flu (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
- Flu View (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
- Influenza (World Health Organization)
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Muscle aches
- Scratchy sore throat
- Runny nose
If you have these symptoms and have questions about how to manage them, please consult a healthcare provider. If you have an underlying medical condition such as asthma, you are at increased risk of complications from the flu.
UConn students at the Storrs campus may call the Student Health Services Advice Nurse at (860) 486-4700, option #1. Calling the Advice Nurse first may give you all the self-care information you need without having to visit Student Health Services. The Advice Nurse is available by phone 24 hours a day during the academic year.
Students at regional campuses as well as faculty and staff are advised to contact their regular health care provider.
If you do become ill:
- Student Health Services recommends all students who become ill go home to rest and recover to prevent the spread of illness on campus. If you can't get home, self isolate in your room to avoid getting others sick.
- STAY HOME! Rest at home until you are fever free for at least 24 hours without medication (for flu like symptoms) or stay home until you are feeling better (for severe diarrhea and vomiting). If you can't get home, stay in your room to avoid contact with others.
- Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration). Sick people with the flu need to drink extra fluids to keep from getting dehydrated. Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine in them such as colas, tea, energy drinks and coffee.
- Treat fever with medicines you can buy at the store such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Use these medications according to the package directions. Don't drink alcohol and take medicine.
- If you get very sick or are pregnant or have a medical condition that puts you at higher risk of flu complications (like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV or AIDS), call your doctor. You might need antiviral medicine to treat flu.
- If you have a sore throat, gargle with salt water 3-4 times a day (mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water). You can also suck on ice chips or frozen popsicles to numb your throat.
In general, if have a high fever, difficulty breathing, chest pain, persistent vomiting, severe diarrhea or dehydration, see immediate medical attention. If necessary, dial 911 and go to the ER.
When you start feeling better:
- Get a new toothbrush.
- Wash your sheets and pillow cases.
- Give your room/apartment a good cleaning! Don't forget surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones, faucets, garbage cans, etc. This will help prevent the spread of flu to your friends and family and back to you!
- Get back to your healthy habits. Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, exercise 3-4 times per week, manage your stress, eat 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies, and stay hydrated.
As a general precaution to help prevent illness, the following practices are advised:
- Cough and sneeze into your arm or elbow, not into your hands.
- Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after a sneeze or cough. Sing the "ABC Song" to yourself while you wash to make sure you have washed long enough (20 seconds.)
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid contact with others you know to be ill.