USM Students hit with flu outbreak



A staggering 88 cases of the flu virus have been reported on the USM campus

In an email sent on Aug 29, Southern Miss officials urged students to get vaccinated. There had been a reported 88 cases of the flu when officials sent the email. Since the Labor Day weekend, the number has since increased to about 90 cases in total. USM states that though there is not a significant number of reported cases along the Gulf Coast location, the university still encourages students to get vaccinated as a safety precaution. The influenza virus is a respiratory illness that can infect the nose, throat and lungs. The illness is easily spread person to person through coughing, sneezing, or talking, increasing a person’s likelihood of transmitting or contracting the flu. This could possibly affect others that are up to six feet away.

Health officials have included preventive measures and tips provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to help steer clear of the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

Kayla Johnson, Moffitt Center Health Educator, says that they are taking this outbreak very seriously. “Though 90 cases may not seem like a lot considering we have about 15,000 students, we are ensuring that the flu doesn’t spread further. That’s why we are offering vaccinations so early in the season.” Johnson will be a guest on 88.5 WUSM on September 6th to talk more about staying well through the cold and flu season. The Moffitt Center currently has 1,000 doses of the flu vaccination on hand for students, faculty and staff to receive for $20.