Maricopa County site of flu season harbinger with AZ's first case in '95

By Raya Tahan

Arizona Daily Wildcat

As November rolls around, aching muscles, fatigue and fever are becoming common complaints.

Flu season has arrived.

The first case in Arizona was identified Oct. 23 in Maricopa County. This was the fifth flu case identified in the U.S. this year. The other cases were reported in New York, Texas and Utah, said Jeff Davis of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

"Outbreaks of the flu can occur abruptly and affect many people," Davis said.

Laurie Weymann, family nurse practitioner at the Student Health Center said influenza is spread from person to person through a multitude of channels, including coughing, sneezing and touching the same objects.

"Every time someone with influenza breathes out, they breathe virus particles into the air," she said.

Weymann said that although many things are called "the flu," true influenza is a specific virus that can be tested for. An influenza vaccination does not protect from colds or other respiratory viruses, she said.

Dr. Lawrence Sands, Health Services epidemiologist said, "In Arizona, flu activity typically begins around late November."

Davis said everyone is at risk for getting influenza. Health Services advised the public to take precautions against the flu by being vaccinated between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15.

Student Health sponsors a flu shot clinic every Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It is open to everyone on a walk-in basis, Weymann said.

Flu shots are also available during the rest of the week at the Student Health immunization clinic. Hours are 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The cost of the vaccination is $6 at both clinics, Weymann said.

Creative writing junior Scott Madsen went to the immunization clinic yesterday because he did not get vaccinated the past two years and then developed influenza.

"I'm sick of walking around like a zombie every winter," he said. "Even when I get a full night's sleep, I don't feel like I did."

Madsen said other symptoms he experiences are headaches and stomachaches.

Casey Cline, an employee of the UA Museum of Art, said he gets the influenza vaccination every year.

"The years that I've skipped the shot, I always end up getting the flu," he said. "But, the years that I get the shot, I don't get the flu."

Cline said he can remember the last year he skipped getting the vaccine. He developed a fever, achiness and sore throat which lasted for one week.

Because influenza has many strains, the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta determines which strains will predominate the current season, based on world trends. A vaccine is then created for each season, Weymann said.

"I would especially urge people with severe allergies and asthma to get the flu shot," she said.

People whose immune systems have been weakened are more likely to develop complications such as pneumonia from a flu case, she said.

Although a vaccine prevents the onset of influenza, Weymann said, it is a virus and therefore incurable once a person develops a case. A typical case lasts one to two weeks.

Rest and fluids assist in easing symptoms. Tylenol is also recommended, Weymann said, because it lowers fever and is gentle on the stomach. Aspirin should not be taken, as it is associated with Reye's Syndrome, a sometimes fatal condition following viral infections like the flu.

Read Next Article