HATTIESBURG, MS (THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI) - A persistent cough and runny nose are just about as prevalent in late January as heavy coats and high electric bills.
At the Bedie Smith Clinic on the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi, physicians, nurses and support staff have seen a steady stream of patients suffering from cold and flu-like symptoms.
"Yes, we have been busy here but that's not unusual for this time of year," said Dr. Virginia Crawford, director of Student Health Services at Southern Miss. "Some of the patients we're seeing need antibiotics but most do not. The majority just has to wait it out and can take some over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms."
Crawford noted that certain decongestants, such as Sudafed, require a doctor's prescription, therefore patients needing that type of medication should come to the university clinic.
This time a year ago Crawford and her staff were treating a massive outbreak of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus that eventually became a global pandemic. Fortunately, the 2011 influenza season is producing a more familiar challenge.
"This is not a new strain of flu that we're seeing this year," said Crawford. "It is primarily the Influenza B virus that is easily covered by the flu vaccine."
Crawford's advice for those who have not received a flu shot? "Wash your hands often and see a doctor if you have a fever, body aches or a severe cold."
While the cold and flu season typically reaches its peak in January and February, the virus can linger well into springtime. The flu vaccine is still available at the Bedie Smith Clinic. For more information call 601.266.5390 or visit www.usm.edu/healthservice/