UT Health Center sees rise in flu patients

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - The University of Tennessee's not closed, but that doesn't mean the campus is flu-free.

Student Health Services says it's treating more students everyday for the flu than last year.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy joins has more on why. The flu bug swarmed campus about three weeks ago. Student Health Services now treats around 300 students a day. Most for the flu. The reason has to do with when the flu hit. Also the close quarters those the campus dorms.

Brigitta Andrew's suffered a week of misery.

"A little bit nauseous, fever, and really achy," Andrews said.

The UT senior's up and about now, but while she beat the bug....

"My roommate still is in bed with a fever, and a lot of my friends got it," Andrews said.

So do hundreds of students on UT's campus.

Student Health Services has seen 10 to 15 percent more students this year than last. Most for the flu.

"Every year we get hit hard. The length of time is a little longer this time," administrator Jim Boyle said.

Administrator Jim Boyle says the flu virus visited campus starting three weeks ago.

"Sometimes we're lucky and it hits right before Spring Break. Then everyone leaves and it does. This time, it hit early enough everyone is here," Boyle said.

That's more than 26-thousand students. Packed onto 550 acres.

"The closer you are to somebody the more likely you are going to catch whatever disease they have," Boyle said.

Turning dorms into influenza incubators.

"I did hear about a lot of the dorms. It spread like wildfire," Andrews said.

"A lot of them in close area, breathing the same air, touching the same things," Boyle said.

That hasn't stopped Julie Guerrero from sharing items with her sick roommate.

"I'm really not scared of getting sick because I wash my hands all the time. I make sure anything she uses I use a cleaner on," Guerrero said.

"Are you getting really good at washing your hands? We all are," Boyle said.

That goes for Brigitta Andrews.

"Really glad to be feeling better, excited to get back to everything," Andrews said.

Because in her senior year, there's no time to be sick.

Flu season starts in November and can run as late as May.

In the past 25 seasons, February has been the peak month 11 times. Part of the problem with this year's is the flu vaccine is only a good match for about 40 percent of the viruses. The bottom line, you've heard it before: Cover mouth and above all wash and wash your hands.


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