Geneseo campus avoids flu epidemic sweeping the state

This year’s H3N2 strain of virus, which causes influenza, had severe impacts in New York state, though the Geneseo campus went comparatively unscathed.

According to the Governor’s Press Office, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared the influenza epidemic a statewide public health emergency. On Jan. 12, he said that there had already been 19,128 cases of influenza reported in New York this season, compared to a total of 4,404 positive laboratory tests that were reported all of last season. 

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for the week of Jan. 13 the number of cases for states in the South, Southeast, Midwest and New England were dwindling and those in the Southwest and Northwest were increasing.

Based on data from CDC, the proportion of deaths during the week of Jan. 20 attributed to pneumonia and influenza rose to 9.8 percent from 8.3 percent the previous week. The flu is above the 7.3 percent epidemic threshold. 

According to the Livingston County Department of Health, in the past two weeks, there were 100 reported cases of influenza in Livingston County. 

“We’ve been seeing a lot of people with the flu or flu-like symptoms,” senior Tyler Schwab said, a patient care technician at Highland Hospital. “We have to put [these individuals] on precautions, and anyone who goes into their room has to wear masks at all times.”

According to Medical Director of the Lauderdale Center for Student Health & Counseling Dr. Steve Radi, compared to past years, the number of flu cases on campus is “not bad at all.” Radi said that Lauderdale assisted only five students in the past week with the flu or flu-like symptoms.

“We were prepared for the worst,” Radi said, in reference to the 770 flu vaccinations the health center administered this flu season. 

CDC estimated that the flu vaccine has a success rate of 62 percent. 

“That percentage goes along with most years,” Radi said. He added that people who received the vaccine are still susceptible to the flu, but typically develop a milder case.

According to Radi, the flu season in the Northeast changes from year to year but is usually between November and February. 

“What’s surprising about this flu season is how early it hit,” Schwab said.

According to Radi, there is not enough data to conclude whether or not the flu season has peaked. 

“Sometimes there’s more than one peak in the flu season,” he said.

Radi said that the academic year has an influence on influenza. 

“When students are stressed they tend to not take care of themselves well and their immune system suffers because of that,” he said. “This could happen during midterms or finals.”

Radi added that the best ways to prevent the flu is to get the flu shot, wash your hands and avoid infected people. As a step toward flu prevention, Lauderdale will continue vaccinating the community as long as there is a need throughout the next week.

“For college students, the flu may not mean death, but it could feel like death,” Schwab said.