KU influenza outbreak
Influenza strikes about this time every year on the Kansas University campus, but this year's outbreak seems be the worst in nearly a decade.
Dr. Patricia Denning, chief of staff at KU's Watkins Health Center, sent an e-mail Tuesday to students, faculty and staff that encouraged those who were sick to stay home and heal to help stop the transmission of the disease. She added that she hoped teachers and supervisors would be understanding.
Denning said Watkins was entirely booked and even double-booked in some cases, often with people who were seeking treatment for the flu.
"This year, we've been seeing more students than usual with influenza, and it was really clustering tightly over the last week to 10 days," Denning said. "For the past few years, we've had a little lighter flu season and this year it's a little heavier."
Denning said the number of influenza cases had ballooned since students returned from winter break in January.
Denning said those who show symptoms of influenza, including high fever, severe headaches, and general aches and pains throughout the body, can visit the doctor within 48 hours to receive anti-viral drugs that will reduce the length of the illness by about one day.
The drug Tamiflu is given in tablet form and costs about $85. Tamiflu is not covered by all insurance plans.
In addition to drugs that can be given after the onset of symptoms, Denning said people should be practicing good hygiene and health habits, including washing hands, covering coughs and getting plenty of rest.
"It's also not too late for people to get a flu shot," she said.
Influenza outbreaks haven't been confined to KU this year.
Belinda Rehmer, spokeswoman for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, said the hospital was seeing people with flu-like symptoms.
"It's too early to say if cases are up, but this is flu season and the emergency room is busy," she said.