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The Blue & Gray Press | September 26, 2018

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Sick of Being Sick: UMW Students and Faculty Face Fierce Flu Season

By ANNE LONGERBEAM

While most of America celebrated Super Bowl Sunday with parties, late hours and an endless supply of snacks and beer, University of Mary Washington freshman Amy Reynolds was confined to her bed.

“The flu hit me totally out of the blue that day and kept me out of class for about a week,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds is not the only one on campus facing body aches, chills, high temperatures and nausea.

UMW joins several other schools across the state dealing with the feverish epidemic.

According to an MSNBC news broadcast, the University of Maryland, College Park, has diagnosed over 400 students with the flu.  Towson University has diagnosed almost 200.

Dr. P. Thomas Riley, Director of Student Health at UMW, has diagnosed around 88 students with the flu in the past three to four weeks.

Riley estimates that for every student diagnosed, there were two or three that went undiagnosed.

According to Riley, even students who received the flu shot are not in the clear.

Each year before the flu shot is produced, vaccine manufacturers guess which strain will be diagnosed most frequently, and produce a shot to combat that particular strain.

“The particular strain of Type B flu we are seeing is not the same as in the flu shot vaccine we offered last fall,” Riley said.

The Student Health Center advertises another protection against the flu, a primary medication  called Tamiflu.

Riley said there is a definite advantage to taking Tamiflu, an oral antiviral medication, by going to the health center as soon as flu symptoms appear.

“If started in the first 24 to 48 hours of symptom onset, it can reduce the severity of the symptoms and lead to recovery about one to two days faster than without it,” Riley said.

Students with the flu felt the negative effects of this time-consuming sickness on their busy schedules.

“Fortunately, my professors were extremely accommodating, allowing me to reschedule tests and homework assignments,” Reynolds said.

Mary Kate Magdycz, a sophomore, immediately noticed an increase in sick friends within the last couple weeks.

“I would literally walk down campus and hear people all over tell their friends that they had it,” Magdycz said.

Besides missing friends, Magdycz was missing  multiple classes.
“It was also really difficult to get all my work done for my classes because it was completely exhausting to be awake and moving around for more than an hour or two at any given time.”

Some students needed to get away from campus to get better.  One of those students was senior Stephanie Sims.

“I just gave up and went home for a few days,” said Sims.  “That’s one good thing about being sick – you have a good excuse to miss classes!”