Confirmed flu cases this year after Sing Song have not reached the same number as last year.
The Medical and Counseling Care Clinic so far this year has confirmed 71 cases of the flu – compared to 148 for the same period in 2017.
Cindy Gravitt, practice manager of the MACCC, said the numbers the clinic reports can be ambiguous because not all students with the flu come into the clinic – some go to other doctors in Abilene or to doctors in their hometown.
Last year, the flu peaked just as Sing Song took place.
“The Monday after Sing Song last year, we had to turn away 74 patients that called for appointments, and that’s part of what helped lead to us introducing Wildcat Care, the telemedicine option,” Gravitt said, “so that even if our clinic is full, or if it’s after hours or weekends, students can still have access to health care.”
ACU’s flu numbers trend the same as numbers of flu cases in the area and across Texas.
“February is usually the peak month for flu,” Gravitt said. “So Sing Song doesn’t actually cause the flu, but it does happen right in the peak of flu season.”
In addition to the traditional winter-time flu period, she said students last year suffered from a flu breakout that spanned from Wildcat Week into the second week of school in early fall.
“It wasn’t very long-lasting, but we did have a little pocket of flu that happened right at the beginning of the school year instead of the traditional November-February months,” Gravitt said.
She said a significant number of people have been diagnosed with either the flu or a flu-like illness through Wildcat Care.
“I think what happens in situations like Sing Song and classrooms and just living in residential halls, you’re sharing a small space with a lot of people and are exposed to germs more easily,” Gravitt said. “In Sing Song particularly, you’re enclosed tight spaces with a big group of people, you’re doing choreography, you’re often holding hands.”
Gravitt encouraged students to go to cdc.gov/flu for a wealth of information on everything from preventive steps to to treatment to symptoms.
“It just so happens that Sing Song and the peak of flu season occur within a few days or weeks of each other nearly every year, and that’s not just at ACU,” she said. “That’s everywhere.”