Follow us on Instagram
Try our daily mini crossword
Play our latest news quiz
Download our new app on iOS/Android!

McCosh doles out Tylenol, advice to treat spread of Influenza A virus

Bed-rest, fluids, Tylenol and cough syrup. That is the treatment regime McCosh Health Center is prescribing to many students arriving at its door this week, said Pamela Bowen, director of Health Services at McCosh.

"We have seen an increase in the number of students admitted with a flu-like illness," Bowen said. Since last week, McCosh has admitted about six students per day, frequently with symptoms including high fever, generalized aches and pains and cough, she added.


Bowen said she suspects that Influenza A, also known as the common flu, is running its course on campus, but she said she is not completely sure. She said she plans to send throat-washings to the State Department of Health, which can test to see if the virus creeping through the dorms is indeed influenza.

Unfortunately, the test takes two to three weeks to run, too long to make the diagnosis meaningful for patients. "The symptomatic treatment is the same (regardless of the flu-like virus)," Bowen said.

Though an increased number of students are spending the night at McCosh, the health center is not filled to capacity. "We're managing just fine," Bowen said. "We still have plenty of space. (Students) are only staying two or three days." She recommended that students with flu-like symptoms visit the health center.


Jonathan Herbach '01 was sick with flu-like symptoms for a couple of days before spending three nights at McCosh. Herbach said he was glad he went to the health center. "You didn't have to think about caring for yourself," he said.

Bowen said that factors such as stress and wintry weather do not cause outbreaks of influenza. "It's strictly if people bring (the virus) into the community," she said. Bowen suspects that students carried the virus back to campus after Intersession break.

The best way to keep from catching the flu is with flu shots, but the preventative vaccines are typically given in October and November. "It's too late for a flu shot," Bowen said.


However, some hope does exist for those who have not had a vaccine. McCosh has a preventative flu medication available for Influenza A, primarily intended for people with an existing serious chronic illness. The medication can also speed the recovery of those already infected with Influenza A, Bowen said.

Prevention methods

Good hygiene remains the standard method of flu prevention. "Hand washing is key," Bowen said. She recommended frequent washing, especially after shaking hands or touching doorknobs. She added that people should not touch their eyes, nose or mouth without washing their hands as viruses can be easily transferred to mucous membranes.

Bowen also recommended that students "get lots of rest, eat well, all those things that are hard for students to do."

Ill students should cover their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze to avoid infecting others, Bowen explained. Because the virus is highly contagious, she said, "Your roommate would probably appreciate it if you came over (to McCosh)."

Get the best of ‘the Prince’ delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe now »