Island University Fights Flu Frenzy

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In light of this particularly active flu season and the start of the spring semester, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi wants to keep its students educated on all things flu-related. This is especially important this year because the flu, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has not only had widespread activity across Texas but the entirety of the continental United States.

“This year has been worse than usual because the flu season started earlier and spread faster than previous years, not to mention there have already been thousands of hospitalizations and 30 flu-related pediatric deaths,” said Denise DeLaRosa, DNP, APRN, FNP-C and assistant professor in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences. “It’s an epidemic.”

DeLaRosa shared her decades worth of knowledge on the virus and flu season, which runs October through May. According to DeLaRosa, the flu can be spread by saliva that discharges when someone coughs or sneezes. This means that contracting the flu is as simple as touching a surface that has been contaminated and then touching one’s face. She also said symptoms of the flu include sudden onset of fever, body aches, chills, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose. As well as vomiting and diarrhea, in some cases.

Furthermore, the flu vaccine has been less effective this year due to the strength of the virus. However, DeLaRosa said receiving the vaccine is still important because it can decrease the severity of symptoms and longevity of the flu, as well as potentially safeguard others who cannot receive the vaccine or are at greater risk of contracting the flu, which includes college students.  

The University Health Center is taking proactive measures to ensure student health and success because campus communities are at greater risk for spreading the flu. Students who have tested positive for flu are excused from class for five days and until they are fever free to ensure the virus doesn’t spread to others. Health Center staff then work with Ann DeGaish, dean of students and associate vice president of student engagement and success, to advocate for the student while they are absent from class.

“It is a huge blessing that our Dean of Students can assist us with this since excusing an absence is out of our jurisdiction,” said Zelda Chacon, interim director of the University Health Center. “It’s wonderful knowing that we can provide the medical resources our students need while Ann can provide the academic support.”  

The Health Center also encourages students who are exhibiting symptoms of the flu to call 361.825.2601, for more assistance. Additionally, they can prescribe Tamiflu, an antiviral medication, to any Texas A&M-Corpus Christi student who has been in close contact with another student being treated by the Health Center. Finally, flu shots are available at the Health Center for a nominal $20 fee.