An open letter to the Virginia Tech community from Schiffert Health Center Director Kanitta Charoensiri
To the Virginia Tech community,
As colleges and universities across the nation respond to the current flu season, Schiffert Health Center at Virginia Tech would like to remind community members of steps they can take to combat flu.
Peak flu activity most commonly occurs from December to February, with substantial activity through May. We encourage everyone in the Virginia Tech community – students, faculty, staff, and visitors – to get a flu vaccine (and it's not too late). It takes one to two weeks to develop immunity once vaccinated. We also recommend frequent handwashing (especially before touching the face), avoiding contact with ill people, and getting enough sleep to minimize risk.
Controlling the spread of flu
If you are ill with symptoms of flu (sudden onset of fever, muscle aches, headache, dry cough, congestion, sore throat, weakness), we recommend that you isolate yourself until you are fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
For students, this means not attending classes and not visiting dining centers. We understand that this may create an increased burden for make-up work and exams; however, our goal is to prevent the spread of the flu as much as possible in an environment that is very conducive to contagious illnesses. We are asking for flexibility with attendance and class work from professors. Flu is highly contagious, and self-isolation is important to help control its spread.
Managing your illness
Unless you are experiencing severe symptoms or have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or asthma, you may not need to visit the health center. Instead, please call Schiffert Health Center at 540-231-6444 if you have concerns about symptoms or questions about managing your illness. Most young, otherwise healthy adults suffer no severe outcomes of flu other than the misery of symptoms for about a week. We recommend symptom treatment with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, decongestants, and plenty of rest and fluids. Anti-viral medications are usually not necessary unless symptoms are severe or other conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or immunosuppression exist.
When to seek medical attention
Reasons for concern when suffering flu-like symptoms include fever greater than 100 degrees for more than five days, chest pain or shortness of breath, headache not relieved with analgesics, persistent nausea and vomiting, and symptoms that get worse after getting better. These symptoms should prompt you to seek medical attention.
More information about flu is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Your cooperation in helping to contain and prevent the spread of the flu is greatly appreciated.
Remember: The best way to combat flu is through prevention. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU GET A FLU VACCINE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE SO.
Kanitta Charoensiri, D.O., M.B.A., Director, Schiffert Health Center at Virginia Tech