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Health Alerts

Influenza (the Flu) Virus Update

(January 31, 2017)
Influenza (what is referred to as the flu) arrived in Boston a few weeks ago, with several confirmed cases at area hospitals and in our Health & Counseling Center.  We are encouraging NEC students and other members of the NEC community who have NOT YET received their  seasonal influenza vaccine (flu shot) to get one since vaccination remains the single best way to prevent the flu.

NEC students may call the NEC Health Service and Counseling Center at 617-585-1284 to schedule an appointment for a flu shot, or if they suspect that they have the flu. It is not too late to get vaccinated, as the flu season will extend into late March. Antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection will develop within two weeks after vaccination. Flu vaccines will not protect against influenza-like illnesses caused by other viruses.  

Please read the following “flu basics” and click on the highlighted web links for additional flu resources.

Symptoms of flu include: 

  • fever (usually high) 
  • headache 
  • extreme tiredness 
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose 
  • muscle aches 
  • stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults 

How Flu Spreads:

  • Flu viruses spread in respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing.
  • They usually spread from person to person, though sometimes people become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. 
  • Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you can pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. 

Good Health Habits to Prevent the Spread of Flu:

  • Clean your hands - Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.  You may also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick - When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick - If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose - Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Cover Your Cough - Stop the Spread of Germs that makes you and others sick.

What should I do if I get the flu?

  • If you are feeling sick, stay home.  You should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone away without the use of fever reducing medicines. 
  • Generally, the flu lasts 3 to 7 days, but people may feel tired for weeks.   Drink plenty of fluids and get a lot of rest.  
  • Medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Nuprin® or Advil®) can be used to help relieve a fever.  Be sure to follow package directions for the age of the person taking the medicine.  
  • Do not give aspirin to children due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious illness.  
  • Decongestants may help relieve a stuffy nose or sinus pressure in adults and older children.  
  • Talk to your health care provider if symptoms seem severe or ongoing. 

For more information on how to care for yourself or someone with the flu, visit the Boston Public Health Commission website.

When should I contact my health care provider?
Get emergency medical care if you or someone you know has flu and any of the signs below: 

  • Trouble breathing or chest pain 
  • Purple or blue discoloration of the lips 
  • Vomiting and unable to keep liquids down 
  • Signs of dehydration, such as dizziness when standing, less urine, or in infants, a lack of tears when they cry 
  • Seizures (for example, uncontrolled convulsions (shakes) 
  • Is less responsive than normal or becomes confused 
  • Signs of flu that improve but then return with fever and worse cough 
  • Fever with a rash 
  • Any other signs that are especially worrisome or concerning

Additional Flu Resources:

The Information included in this update was adapted from materials found on the Centers for Disease Control and Boston Public Health Commission websites.