Coronavirus versus seasonal flu: What the experts say

Abby Bishop

By now, the entire world has heard of the coronavirus that is sweeping through areas of China. There have been many questions regarding the threat that it poses in the United States, and more specifically what precautions are being taken at Missouri Southern.

As of right now it is a low-risk situation, according to Julie Stamps the Director of Wilcoxon Health Center on campus. Stamps says it is important not to panic. 

Stamps said there have not been any confirmed cases in the U.S. But, according to the Center for Disease Control, there are 14 confirmed cases in the continental U.S.

Stamps reiterated that it is important to stay aware but not to panic and to always stay informed.

If you are planning on traveling internationally, it is important to visit the CDC’s website and assess the travel guidelines in place for the area you plan to travel to.

The CDC says that the risk of contracting the disease is dependent entirely on exposure. Health care workers and those that have been directly in contact with infected persons are at greater risk of contracting the virus, but for the general American public, the risk is low since there is little chance they would have been in contact with an infected person.

Even though the risk to the general public is low, the CDC is closely monitoring the situation and working to control the spread of the virus in the U.S.

However, as extensive as the media coverage for the new illness has been, a threat that is commonly overlooked is the seasonal flu. The symptoms for the seasonal flu include a fever, cough, runny nose and body aches.

Around five to 20 percent of Americans will contract the seasonal flu during the typical flu season. There are many cases of the flu that go unreported because people let it run its course at home without seeking medical treatment. 

Stamps recommends practicing good hand hygiene, staying home when you are sick, and trying to avoid contact with people who are ill. Taking personal precautions daily is the best way to protect oneself from getting sick in general.

It is not too late to get vaccinated for the seasonal flu. Wilcoxon Health Center on campus is offering free flu shots, which were donated by Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri in Joplin. Stamps says that the Health Center is happy to vaccinate for the seasonal flu and she recommends that everyone does.