City College fights the flu; influenza virus threatens student health, attendance records

Photo illustration by Megan Horn | Staff Photographer | mhorn.express@gmail.com

Chelsea Knowlton
Staff Reporter
cknowlton.express@gmail.com

Sick days. Ferris Bueller spent his strolling through museums, singing in parades and sneaking into neighbors’ pools. However, this winter has found Sacramentans spending theirs sleeping under piles of blankets, swallowing gallons of cough syrup and searching for relief from this winter’s monstrous flu season.

The winter of 2017 and 2018 has brought a flu with it that has worked and writhed its way through the country and Sacramento has been caught in the cross-hairs.

“I don’t know why it’s particularly bad this year,” said Wendy Gomez, Sacramento City College’s resident nurse. “It was unfortunate that the initial flu shot did not cover many of the viruses that were around.”

According to Gomez, the biggest problem isn’t when the symptoms first appear, it’s the aftermath.  As if to add insult to injury, many students who contract the flu end up with a secondary illness as well.

“We’re seeing a lot of pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections” said Gomez. “Those kind of things that are coming from the built up mucus you had while you were sick.”

City College student Natalie Doughty, 21, was one such victim.

“I got an upper respiratory infection,” said Doughty. “It was pretty terrible.”

According to an influenza health advisory published by Sacramento County Public Health, there have been 50 cases of patients in the intensive care unit as well as the deaths of five people under the age of 65 attributed to this flu strain as of Jan. 27.

Gomez warns against fighting against the illness. She says if you’ve had a fever in the last 24 hours, stay home as this is when you’re most contagious.

“College students are notorious for coming with a fever and not feeling well because they can’t miss their classes.”

City College student Quinn Rivers, 17, is a perfect example of what can happen to a student’s workload after missing a few days of class.

“I got something. I’m not sure what it was,” said Rivers. “I have three classes and when I came back I had three speeches and a test I didn’t know about.”

When asked his opinion on the flu and what should be done about it, Rivers’ response was realistically melancholic.

“We need something antibacterial but the thing is it’s only going to get worse when you throw medication at it,” said Rivers. “It’s best just to not re-infect the community but that isn’t always easy.”

City College’s resident nurse, Wendy Gomez, sent out a campus-wide email with prevention tips as well as guidelines about what to do if you get the flu.

The email makes it clear that the flu is a virus, not a bacteria. This means that it can not be treated with antibiotics and may last up to two weeks.

The list of prevention tips includes proper hand washing with soap and warm water, and a link to a video demonstrating the proper technique for a cough.

The email goes on to clarify which flu symptoms can be treated with home remedies and which warrant professional medical attention. Recommended home treatments include taking over the counter medications like Advil, Motrin, or Tylenol to alleviate body aches, headaches and fevers. Medications specific to cold and flu symptoms are encouraged as well.

More natural remedies include hot water with lemon and honey, gargling with warm salt water, using vapor rubs and drinking plenty of fluids, said Gomez.

If your coughing is severe and unresponsive to over the counter medicine, or you have severe diarrhea or vomiting, Gomez said she recommends to see your doctor.

If you’re unsure about how to treat your symptoms, take advantage of Gomez and her advice in the health center located on the first floor of Rodda Hall South.