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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

What You Can Do About Influenza

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A Guide for Minnesota State University, Mankato Students

January 2018--Minnesota State Mankato Student Health Services has been seeing an increase in students presenting with influenza symptoms.  Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat and lungs.  The best way to prevent influenza is by getting a flu vaccine each year.  Note:  Influenza is oftentimes shortened to "flu" and is not the same as gastroenteritis (sometimes called the stomach flu), an infection that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Plan Ahead

  • Get your own thermometer, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and tissues.  These and additional self-care items can be purchased on campus at Student Health Services Pharmacy.
  • Maintain your own supply of hand soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Start a good hand-washing habit.  Always wash with soap for at least 20 seconds before eating, drinking, or preparing food; after using the bathroom; and if you cough or sneeze into a tissue.
  • Practice coughing and sneezing into your sleeve.  Viruses can't stay viable as long or spread as easily from fabric as they can from your hands.
  • Try to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.  Wash your hands more often if you smoke or bite your nails.
  • Get your seasonal flu shot now ($30 at Student Health Services).  Go to or call 507-389-6276 to set up an appointment.

If you are in close contact with someone who is sick with influenza, don't panic. Influenza may be very common on campus and people may get sick despite their best efforts.  Most students will not need to take any special actions based on ordinary exposure.  However, students with conditions associated with a higher possibility of complications from the flu should call their health care provider promptly, as medication may be recommended in some cases to prevent influenza.  These "high-risk" medical conditions include:  asthma or other chronic pulmonary disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, pregnancy, weakened immune system or kidney, liver, blood or neurological disorder.  For Student Health Services, call 507-389-6276.

If You Do Get Sick...

  • Take your temperature.  If you have a fever (100 degrees F/37.8 degrees C or higher), you must stay home from work and class until you have been completely fever-free (without fever reducing medicine) for at least 24 hours, and you feel well.
  • If you have a "high-risk" medical condition, call your health care provider.  Although antiviral medications are not recommended for healthy individuals, they are recommended for some "high-risk" cases and should be taken as soon as possible.
  • Most people recover on their own without medical treatment.  Drink fluids to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, eat what you can and use ibuprofen and acetaminophen, as directed, to manage fever and body aches.
  • Call a health care provider if you experience any of the following:
    • shortness of breath or trouble breathing
    • pain or pressure in the chest of abdomen
    • severe or persistent vomiting
    • confusion or sudden dizziness
    • flu symptoms that improve but then suddenly return with fever and worsened cough
  • Cancel any appointments and contact your professors, TAs, and employers to let them know you have influenza symptoms and cannot return to class or work until you are better.  As with any illness, you will be responsible for getting any class notes you have missed and making arrangements to make up work after you recover.
  • Tell your close contacts you may have influenza.  That means roommates/housemates and co-workers.  Also, any friends, lab partners, etc. that you spent time with in the 24 hours before you started to feel sick.  If any of them have a "high-risk" health condition, this will give them an opportunity to contact a health care provider for advice and, possibly, medication.
  • Self-isolate.  You should not go to the library, Student Union, restaurants, or any social events.  You should avoid public transportation, if possible.
  • Influenza viruses typically survive on surfaces for 2 to 8 hours so do not share towels, clothing, eating utensils, keyboards, remote controls, etc. while you are infectious.  Standard cleaning products should be sufficient to remove viruses from surfaces, but water alone is not enough.
  • When you recover, wash your own sheets and towels.  Empty your wastebasket of used tissues, etc. and take the trash out yourself.