Flu outbreak reports a false alarm
Reports that there has been an outbreak of flu at The Citadel have been overstated, Citadel officials announced Monday.
During the month of November, The Citadel infirmary had five confirmed cases of the flu out of 10 students who had complained of flu-like symptoms. The others were a variety of illnesses such as bronchitis and sinusitis.
The number of flu cases, while somewhat higher than normal, is not unexpectedly high, according to infirmary physician Dr. Clay Robertson.
"Every year we have a flurry of respiratory problems," Robertson said. "That's what we expect. The good news for us is these are young, healthy folks and influenza is usually a mild disease. We are able to get them into the infirmary, treat them and get them back to the barracks and their classes within 24 to 48 hours."
Robertson said there is still cause for concern about a flu outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control has predicted this flu season could be unusually bad, with outbreaks earlier than the typcial months of January and February due to a flu strain that is somewhat resistant to vaccines.
"We're concerned but we don't want to cause undue alarm," Robertson said.
In the barracks (like a typical college dorm), cadets live in a communal environment. It is easy to spread colds and flu in such close living quarters.
"That's why we encourage them to get a flu shot and when they get sick we tell them to get over here so we can treat them and prevent an outbreak," Robertson said.
The Citadel is home to 1,909 cadets and approximately 600 employees. More than 500 students have had flu shots so far this season. Shots are free for cadets. Faculty and staff pay a nominal fee.
"There's going to be a big push between now and Christmas to get the cadets in here for flu shots," Robertson said. "Then hopefully we will be in good shape come January and February."
For information on how to protect yourself from the flu visit the CDC website for more information at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluinfo.htm.