By Kirstin Lee —

University spokesperson John Karman said as of Jan. 29, 40 people have tested positive for the flu or flu-like illnesses at U of L campuses.

This year, a type of flu called the H3N2 strain is predominant. The usual two to three percent of the population that seeks flu treatment has leaped to six percent.

According to the Center for Disease Control, this year’s vaccine formula is only 30 percent effective against H3N2. The reason for this lapse is most likely because Australia’s own flu season, which happened during our summer, did not have such severe versions of this disease.

Scientists in charge of making the yearly vaccine formula base their research on what is observed of Australia’s flu statistics since the country is undergoing winter while the United States is in summer. The faulty protection of the vaccine has allowed the contagious virus to spread more easily.

“Hand washing is one of the best protections toward catching the flu,” U of L’s Director of Pharmacy Utilization Jessie Morgan said.

“Stay away from someone who has the flu if possible. Try not to touch your nose, mouth or eyes and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze,” Morgan said.

Morgan said it’s important to get plenty of sleep and to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent illness.

As for those who are already sick, Morgan said to stay home until at least 24 hours after the fever breaks and keep well-hydrated. If the flu is severe enough, a visit to the doctor’s office for a prescription of antivirals, such as Tamiflu, will help cut down the duration of the sickness.

“Symptoms of the flu may include headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or above and feeling feverish or having chills,” Morgan said. He also added that not every case of the flu will come with a fever, so it’s important to be mindful of other symptoms.

Because flu symptoms are so similar to a cold, human resources plan to send an explanation of differences between the cold and flu in their next newsletter.

“I highly recommend that everyone take the flu vaccine at the end of October because it does confer 40 to 60 percent protection,” Morgan said.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal