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In January, it is no surprise to have lectures punctuated by fellow students' coughs and sneezes. But when professors are drowned out by students' wheezing before Fall Break, you know there is something funny in the air. And there is. Hundreds of students have been hit in a recent outbreak of the flu, Student Health Services officials said. Student Health Director MarJeanne Collins said last week that a virus has been plaguing students and others for over a month, with symptoms ranging from a runny nose to bronchitis. Collins said that the virus is "extrordinarily wide-spread," adding that 10 to 12 people have been coming into Student Health with the symptoms every day. Student Health doctor Jeanette Wheeler said that while flu epidemics are not rare during the winter, this outbreak has arrived unusually early. Wheeler said that the first cases were reported during early September. "This is more than we usually see this time of year," Wheeler said yesterday. Wheeler also said that the virus has proved particularly difficult to combat, adding that antibiotics have done little to stop its effects. Student Health recomends that afflicted students drink plenty of fluids, get a lot of rest and consume over-the-counter decongestants. Wheeler said the symptoms of the virus include a sore throat, nasal and chest congestion, heavy fatigue, coughing, fever, soreness, nausea and severe cases can result in bronchitis. "This is more than the usual cold," Wheeler said. Collins said that the illness comes in waves and is "persistant over a long period of time." The virus has made itself felt by professors and student alike. Political Science Professor Alvin Rubinstein said yesterday that he had noticed a particularly high amount of coughing and wheezing in his classes. "It's usually later in the year when they go around sniffing and coughing," said Rubinstein. College sophomore Allison Keech said she caught the virus last week, and that her symptoms included bronchitis. Keech said she has missed classes for three days and sees no end in sight. "I feel like I can't move, like I have run a marathon," she said. "Everything hurts." Keech said that Student Health helped her to shake the fit of bronchitis she had last week, but that now she has relapsed into other symptoms. "You seem to get over it, but then it comes back," said Keech. The virus does not offer any life-threatening consequences and is more inconvenient than serious, Wheeler said. "Luckily, it does go away."

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