Love is in the Air… but so is the Flu!

Connor Thompson, ENN Staff

High school on Valentines day: halls full of P.D.A., cheap chocolates, balloons, and a deadly epidemic.

With a death toll of 2897 Texans, according to the Texas Department of Health Services, Valentines Day is starting off not so happy this year. While 2,271 of those deaths belonged to those 65 and up, students at Lake Ridge High School are still susceptible to the disease. With this week being about showing your love and affection towards your significant other, the flu is getting in the way for some students. However, here are a few tips from the Center for Disease Control, on how to improve your day dedicated to your Valentine.

The first tip is to avoid close contact with others. The flu is highly contagious, and can be spread to anyone within 6 feet of someone else effected by the disease. Most experts believe that the flu is spread by droplets of saliva when people that are infected cough, sneeze, or just talk. So, due to the nature of the upcoming holiday, people might be tempted to be closer to those who are not presenting symptoms. However, even if you’re not feeling ill, it doesn’t mean you don’t have the flu.

“Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others,” according to the C.D.C..

This analysis from the C.D.C. raises some concerns; especially this Valentines Day. Not only do the public displays of affection provide ample opportunity for the flu to spread, but the exchanging of gifts that might have been exposed by the flu. A good tip to go by is to wipe down any boxes of chocolates with the germaphobe’s favorite, Clorox Wipes. Although, please do not disinfect down the chocolates themselves.

A second tip is to always use hand sanitizer and to avoid touching doorknobs. In addition, coughing and sneezing into your elbow will help prevent the spread of the flu. Using these techniques, you can protect yourself and others by either killing the virus on your hands or doorknobs, or by trapping the droplets that the virus is spread through in your elbow. Sophomore Ariyana Slindee describes how she will follow these rules almost religiously, in order to keep her attendance perfect.

“I’m going to try to prevent getting the flu by sanitizing my hands and by using disinfectant wipes to disinfect doorknobs. I really can’t risk getting the flu, because I have a lot on my plate and getting sick would only set me back days and weeks,” said Slindee.

The third option is to stay home from work or school if you’re feeling sick. This is now an option, according to a district statement claiming that absences due to the flu will not count against your exemptions. Usually, however, missing school is not an option, according to Jakob Conrad, because High School usually requires you to only have two absences if you want to exempt your finals. He believes the district’s usual way of handling excused absences is ineffective, and actually hurts the district,

“Being absent isn’t really an option for people in High School, because the schools make it too hard to miss school by taking away exemptions and/or giving you copious amounts of homework. Considering a lot of the cases of the flu require an entire week to get out of your system, the school doesn’t seem to understand that by forcing us to be in school while sick is actually causing more absences, because some people are too sick to function and think. It’s not like how it was is Elementary school, where missing school was the best thing in the world,” said Conrad.

If you can’t miss your classes, a good tip to live by this Valentines Day is to simply avoid those that seem sluggish, pale, and tired. While these features exhibit themselves in almost all high school students, consistent coughing and sneezing will help tell the difference from an A.P. student to a carrier of the flu.

Considering the severity of this flu season, students should be encouraged to do whatever they can to keep themselves healthy, as well as being considerate towards other students. Despite the possibly overwhelming make-up work and the loss of exemptions, it could be seen as counter productive to risk others, and even possibly their lives, by being in contact with healthy people when you have the flu. So this Valentines Day, keep your loved ones close, but your Purell closer.