Our view: We can all do our part

Back in April, we and others criticized President Lester Lefton for his delayed response to the College Fest riots.

The same can’t be said, however, of his preparation for a possible swine flu outbreak at Kent State.

With the H1N1 virus likely to hit the area sometime this fall, Lefton and the university have pulled out the stops, installing hand sanitizer dispensers throughout campus and instructing professors to come up with contingency plans in case of a large-scale outbreak.

With those efforts, Lefton and the university have done all they can. Now, it’s our turn.

College students are especially at risk for contracting swine flu, thanks to the close quarters we often live in. An outbreak of the virus in a campus dormitory is scary to imagine, especially considering H1N1’s extremely contagious nature.

But by taking measures to avoid catching and spreading the virus, we can prevent the catastrophe of previous flu epidemics.

Flu shots are important in almost any given year, but they’re a necessity this year. The specific swine flu vaccine isn’t available yet, but students need to get it when it comes out. The best way to avoid spreading a virus is to avoid getting it in the first place.

Good hygiene should take a higher priority this year, too. Those hand sanitizer dispensers were installed across campus for a reason. Use them. And don’t forget to wash your hands after you sneeze – or better yet, sneeze into your elbow as advised by health officials.

But most important is this: If you do catch the virus, don’t spread it to others.

You can do that by heeding Lefton’s advice and going home if you get infected. If you do contract H1N1, don’t attend class. Call or e-mail your professor and let him or her know you can’t go. They’ll understand. They know the situation too. It’s better to miss a week of class than it is to spread the virus to dozens of others.

For now, what we can do is research the virus as much as possible. The information is all out there on the Internet, particularly on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site. A little bit of research can go a long way when it comes to preventing the spread of H1N1.

Even with all those precautions, it’s unlikely we can stop swine flu entirely. The virus has persisted throughout the world for months. But by getting the vaccine and following good hygiene, we can certainly do our part to avoid a major pandemic.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater’s editorial board.