Community encouraged to take steps to stay healthy during flu season

January 24, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — According to a weekly activity report issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, flu activity in the state has been elevated to the highest level. Since the beginning of the 2019-20 flu season, 39,421 cases of the flu have been confirmed throughout Pennsylvania, with 245 cases reported in Centre County. Flu cases with two different subtypes have also been confirmed at University Park.

Amid sharp increases in flu activity, Penn State University Health Services, in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is encouraging the Penn State community to follow a series of illness prevention techniques to protect against the flu and other illnesses this season:

  • Get an annual flu vaccination. The CDC's website states that the best way to prevent the seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often; use an alcohol-based sanitizer when washing with soap and water is not possible.
  • Avoid sharing food, drinks and utensils with others.
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • If you are sick, limit contact with others and stay home from class or work until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wash hands before eating or handling food. 

The most common symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. Some individuals may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.

While anyone can get the flu, those with the highest risks of serious complications include young children; women who are pregnant; people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease; and people ages 65 and older. 

Other illnesses common to campus this time of year include colds and viruses, namely norovirus, a virus unrelated to the flu that causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines and is characterized by diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.

Individuals concerned about the flu, norovirus, or other illnesses and those experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms should contact University Health Services at 814-863-0774, or their regular health care provider. Appointments are also currently being accepted for the flu vaccine.

Additional illness prevention resources can be found by visiting the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health websites. 

Last Updated February 05, 2020