Should I tell flu victims to keep away?

January 21, 2000

Q Flu is wreaking havoc with attendance and even when students turn up I wonder whether they can hear my lecture amid the coughing and spluttering. Should I tell flu victims to keep away?

A If you have caught flu, it is highly unlikely you will be able to get up to go to lectures or seminars. The main

symptoms are high temperature, muscle aches, severe malaise, headache and a sore throat. Stay in bed, take plenty of fluids and painkillers (over-the-counter paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen are cheapest and best)

and stay away from classes until the fever has abated and the symptoms are settling. This may take three days or longer, so ask friends or your tutors for lecture notes.

Influenza is spread by virus-laden droplets generated in the air when a flu-sufferer talks, coughs or sneezes, and people are infectious for a day or two before symptoms appear until almost a week after symptoms appear.

Students are not routinely offered the flu jab unless they are at "high risk" of complications - for example, if they have asthma, diabetes or if they are over 75 years. On a positive note, it has been said that in healthy individuals occasional bouts of flu offer better protection against future infection than regular vaccination.

Tim Noble

Medical officer

University Medical

Centre

University of Kent

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