Tonsil hockey season ends early as flu season arrives

Although an unseasonable warmth has caused summer to seemingly persist through the beginning of October, officials from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention have announced that flu season has come early to the state. Its official start date is Oct. 1 for the rest of the nation, however, cases began to spring up across Maine much earlier.

In an interview with WMTW News 8’s Lauren Bradley, Dr. Owen Pickus of the Maine Centers for Healthcare says that the illness’s early arrival can be attributed to “bad luck-it’s the nature of the beast”.

According to the Maine CDC, multiple hospitals across the state reported positive diagnoses in mid-September. One patient traveled out of the country before contracting the illness, while others have become sick in state. “These cases popped up earlier than expected, that’s why health officials say people should get their flu shots sooner,” Bradley reports.

Besides forcing public health officials to speed up their vaccination schedule, Dr. Pickus does not see much threat in the early onset of flu season. “If you can get your vaccination between now and the end of October, I think you are going to be fine,” Dr. Pickus says, “Most people are not going to be exposed to influenza prior to the end of October, unless we are very unlucky this year”.

Nevertheless, Dr. Pickus admits that the flu itself is a very serious issue, and should be attended to accordingly. “This is not a minor problem,” Pickus warns, “It’s a disease that kills just as many people as many cancers do (or more), every year. And you have a simple way to stop it: Get vaccinated.”

Thankfully, the College will be providing free flu shots again this year. On Thursday, Oct. 5, Monday, Oct. 9, Wednesday, Oct. 11, and Friday, Oct. 13, vaccines will be administered in the Bobby Silberman Lounge from 10 p.m.-2 p.m..

On top of this, officials at the CDC recommend taking other preventative measures such as staying home from school/work when you are sick, washing your hands and face frequently, and using a clean towel to dry off.

The National Foundation for Infectious Disease (NFID) urges college students to pay special attention to this advice, as they are some of the most at risk adults in the United States. Close living quarters, shared bathrooms, and frequent social interaction cause the disease to spread more rapidly on college campuses than it does anywhere else in the United States.

Fortunately, by getting vaccinated, staying clean, and limiting social contact when ill, contracting the  flu can be very easily prevented. Of course, unless you want to leave a wake of diseased suitors, cuffing someone early this season may be another good move for Colby students in particular.