The number of reported “influenza and influenza-type illness” cases at Emory between Jan. 1 and Feb. 10 has reached 193, according to a Feb. 12 email sent to the Wheel by Emory University Student Health and Counseling Services (EUSHS) Executive Director Michael Huey. In 2017, EUSHS had 27 reported cases for about the same time period.
The influx of cases at Emory this year matches the nationwide trend for flu outbreak that began 11 weeks ago. That number is expected to rise in following weeks as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives more reports. In Georgia, there have been 66 flu-related deaths as of Feb. 3, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The flu outbreak is worsening and “will likely linger for several weeks,” the CDC said Friday.
The outbreak has caused more people at Emory to seek vaccines. CVS at Emory Village and CVS at Emory Point both ran out of the flu vaccine and EUSHS had only 16 doses available as of Tuesday afternoon.
EUSHS has exhausted all its potential sources for additional doses, including Emory Healthcare, Huey told the Wheel. Flu cases seem to have dropped off slightly at Emory, as Huey wrote that EUSHS had 34 visits for the flu this past week as opposed to the 64 it saw the week before.
The Minute Clinic at Emory Point, an urgent health care service that is “not directly affiliated” with CVS Pharmacy, still had a few doses of vaccine available as of Tuesday night, a CVS employee said.
While the number of flu-related visits to EUSHS is declining, there could still be an increase in flu cases over the next few weeks, Huey said.
The flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by about 40 to 60 percent, according to the CDC. Some students caught the flu despite having taken countermeasures ahead of time. To prevent the spread of the flu, the CDC recommends people avoid close contact with sick people; wash their hands often with soap and water; avoid touching their eyes, mouth and nose; and disinfect surfaces.
“I got my flu shot really preemptively just because I heard people saying that it could be bad, and I feel like it doesn’t really matter; people are still getting it,” Madison Herin (19C) said. “I still got [sick], even though I got my flu shot.”
Minnie Yang (20C) realized she had the flu Saturday morning when she woke up with a high temperature.
“I’ve had to stay in my room basically the past four days and I haven’t really been doing much,” Yang said. “I just really want to get back to class.”
Richard Chess contributed reporting.