KSU students shouldn’t count out flu just yet

Kate Sheafer

Your spotless dorm room could be teeming with germs

The beginning of spring semester may be a time when many students find their dorm rooms the neatest they’ll be until summer break begins: folders are organized, laundry is in its place and sheets are clean.

But a dirty secret lies beneath the façade of cleanliness. The flu virus and other contagious germs are often abundant as students return to the dorm life, armed with supplies, such as snacks, and germs from home.

Members of the nursing staff at DeWeese Health Center said flu cases generally increase after break because students are returning to campus from all over the world and because it’s flu season in general.

The idea of increased contamination is foreign to some dorm-dwelling students who often ignore the flu-prevention posters hanging on the walls of residence halls.

Joey Keger, freshman early childhood education major, said the increased threat of flu hasn’t really crossed his mind at all.

“I’m not really concerned about getting sick,” he said. “I wash my hands regularly and use the hand sanitizer in the hallways. That’s about it.”

Other students share similar feelings, choosing not to get worked up over something that may or may not be an issue to them personally.

“I feel like I’m not very worried about the flu,” Ashley Faikowski, sophomore visual communication design major, said. “Nothing really came from the hype before with swine flu, so the regular flu isn’t too concerning.”

Last semester, Kent State was on heightened alert for H1N1 virus, and officials took strides to educate students on how to prevent its spread. While the virus is still a concern, the traditional flu is the most common worry for health officials in the first few weeks of the spring semester, nurses said.

The nursing staff suggests students should continue to follow the same sanitation guidelines given last semester, including washing and sanitizing hands, getting plenty of rest, maintaining proper nutrition and getting the seasonal flu shot.

Many students urge their peers to use common sense when they’re sick.

“I’m more worried about the flu in classrooms than dorms,” freshman exploratory major Ellie Berndt said. “There are so many more people around who could be sick.”

Amy Cross, sophomore fashion merchandising major, agreed with Berndt.

“If you’re deathly ill, save the rest of your classmates,” she said. “Just don’t come to class. If you absolutely have to attend, at least be smart and don’t cough on us.”

Nurses at the health center define flu symptoms as sudden onset fever, headaches and body aches. They urge anybody exhibiting these symptoms to make medical appointment to ensure these are nothing more serious than the flu.

If students show symptoms during hours when the health center is closed, the staff suggests calling the 24-hour nurse line at 672-2326 where nurses from Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital can answer students’ health questions.

Contact health reporter Kate Sheafer at [email protected].