Flu cases increase as students go back to school

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno State classes will to start Thursday but some students have already started to move back into dorms. Many students said they have not got a flu shot, but students can still get free vaccines at Fresno State's health center.

Thousands of Fresno State students will be back on campus for spring semester in close quarters inside classrooms and residence halls. Freshman D'Metrius Hopkins knows there is the risk of catching some kind of bug.

"A lot of my friends have been getting sick lately," Hopkins said. "I really hope I don't get the flu, I'm try and do anything I can to not get sick."

So far the State Department of Public Health has confirmed seven flu related deaths in California, and it is investigating 28 more cases.

In the Central Valley, county health officials blame the flu for five deaths, two in Merced County, one in Fresno County, and two in Kings County.

Doctors at Clinca Sierra Vista said one of its clinics received a shipment of flu vaccines from the state last week, and the doses will be administered for free to lower income families.

"It's very important we've been seeing a high rise in people with the flu, even being hospitalized for it," Erika Gurrusquieta said.

H1N1 is the most prevalent flu strain this season. The strain killed more than 600 people in California in 2009 and thousands more during a world-wide outbreak.

"A lot of these cases with the flu were the young people this year, so everybody is encouraged to get the vaccine," Erika Gurrusquieta said.

Fresno State officials say its health center ordered 2,000 doses of the flu shots for the season and is giving it free to students. So far more than 1,700 students have taken advantage of it.

Hand sanitizer dispensers are available throughout campus. Graduate student Edward Bikbaev makes a habit of using hand sanitizer, but knows he should do more to protect himself.

"Probably if I get a flu shot, there's a probability I won't get sick so I'll give it a try," Erika Gurrusquieta said.

Fresno State officials say they have not noticed an increase of students with flu like symptoms compared to years past. Clovis Unified School District officials say they haven't noticed an increase either.

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