Influenza: a virus in our own backyards


Photo courtesy of: The CDC

This is a microscopic version of what a strain of influenza looks like. While looking small, the flu is capable of being a powerful disease, and even taking lives in extreme cases without the vaccination.

Information accurate as of March 5

While many people are worried about the coronavirus, which is at large in Wuhan, China, perhaps they should instead be focusing their attention on a virus that they are much more likely to receive.
The influenza virus, better known as the flu, has quickly been spreading around the globe due to its contagious nature.
Flu season usually begins in October and can extend to as late as early April. This flu season in particular has been brutal, with over 22 million people contracting the disease. According to WebMD, officials had previously said that this year’s flu season was on track to be one of the worst in decades.
The flu affects the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include fever, chills, dry coughs and muscle aches, as well as headache, fatigue, sore throat and nasal congestion.
“It started with a headache, then moved on to congestion and achy body, and I had a temperature,” Kelsey June-Fragale, an English teacher, said regarding the symptoms she faced when she had the illness.
“They were out for a long time, so they’re probably bad,” Annie Laursen, ‘24, said regarding the severity of flu symptoms that her fellow classmates had.

The severity may also vary depending on a person’s immune system. Those with stronger immune systems will be better equipped to fight off the disease.
There are two strains when it comes to the flu: influenza A and influenza B. Strain B has been more common in young adults up to age 24, while strain A has been more common in older adults, according to WebMD.
The flu has taken WHHS by storm. Many students at WHHS have fallen ill and have been forced to stay home from school until their illness has passed.

Students in every one of my classes have been out with the flu”

— Kelsey June-Fragale, AP Language & Composition and British Literature teacher

June-Fragale said that “students in every one of my classes have been out with the flu.”
There are, of course, multiple steps that can be taken in order to prevent contraction of the flu. “I think it’s easily preventable,” Laursen said, “if people just cover their coughs and stay home if they’re sick. And, you know, get vaccinated.”
Not only that, but there are also steps teachers can take in order to ensure that students at WHHS can stay at home and still be able to manage the heavy workload.
“One of the things I started doing was putting out extra instructions on Schoology for things that students might have missed in addition to the homework,” June-Fragale said. She also builds more flexibility in her lesson plans due to this issue.
As it can be seen, the impact that the flu has on not only WHHS, but America as a whole, is greater than the impact of the coronavirus.
Due to this, awareness of the flu is key, and if you do end up receiving it, be sure to get plenty of rest and do whatever is possible to keep it away from your family and friends.