While cases of the flu normally peak in January, Michigan flu cases registered a delayed increase in February.
“It arrived a bit later than last year,” said Geralyn Lasher, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health. She added that the trend has been for the majority of flu cases to hit around January, but the late arrival should not be a cause for alarm.
“The influenza reports are within a completely normal range and this is not an outbreak situation,” Lasher said. “February is just when we started to see influenza activity.”
Louise Herlocher, a School of Public Health assistant research scientist, said the timing of intense influenza activity cannot be determined. “Last year influenza hit in December, though it usually increases in January. We cannot predict when it is going to really take hold,” she said.
Even with increases in flu cases across the state, incidents of influenza among University students have remained stable. Interim Director of University Health Services Robert Winfield said since December only 15 patients with severe influenza symptoms tested positive and 12 tested negative.
Winfield encouraged those who had not yet received a flu vaccination to get one.
“A typical picture of influenza is fever, severe muscle ache, severe cough, and headache, all usually starting within 24 hours,” Winfield said.
“If someone comes down with a flu there are medicines that can treat it within 48 hours and that will shorten the duration of the illness,” he said.
Valerie Gliem, spokeswoman for the University Health System, said approximately 11,433 flu vaccinations had been administered to the Ann Arbor community by the Michigan Visiting Nurses, a clinic which administers free vaccinations. This number is only 137 less than last year”s total of 11,570 vaccinations.
Gliem also said despite the increase, reported flu cases for the year were relatively less. “Flu cases are lighter than had been projected and lighter than in past years,” she said.
Lasher said students should take the necessary precautions to avoid the virus. Students should get adequate rest, have a good diet and exercise frequently.