Kiara Hall knew this was bad. This is, arguably, one of the most exciting times in her life, but instead of adjusting to life as a college freshman, she was sitting on one of the stiff chairs in Florida A&M University’s health clinic.
“I knew I had the flu when I could barely get out of bed. It was awful,” said Hall.
Hall, 18, a pharmacy student from Miami, is one of many ill Rattlers in her dormitory, McGuinn Hall.
“Every time I came back from class, I either heard about someone on my hall who had the flu, or who thought that individual had the flu,” said Hall.
Unfortunately McGuinn, and the other nine residence halls on campus, are breeding grounds for germs and other harmful bacteria.
According to Health.com, an internet site dedicated to every health subject imaginable, Hall most likely caught the illness from her fellow dorm mates.
The site recently released an article pin-pointing nine health hazards that are prominent in dormitory living. Here are the top five:
1. The swine flu frenzy has caused panic levels to soar across many college campuses. The number of cases this fall semester is astounding, shocking even to the most prepared of health care professionals. A healthcare alert icon featured on FAMU’S official website warns students of the flu virus and its probability to spread around campus: “The H1N1 influenza virus continues to be a concern for the FAMU community. We are asking that everyone take proper precautions to help prevent the spread of flu.” Health.com accredits close living quarters as an easy way to swap germs from person to person, putting students who live in dorms at increased risk. As a result, washing hands and covering the mouth after sneezing are important in curbing the sickness.
2. If you are in college and a law abiding citizen, you should have gotten the meningitis vaccine. Currently, 37 states in the country have passed legislation to make the vaccine mandatory. Meningitis is a rare, but sometimes fatal, disease that mostly affects college students who live in dormitories. It is spread through air droplets and direct contact with an infected person. According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, all students should be vaccinated to prevent the spread of the disease. MSNBC.com’s health section advises dorm buddies to wash hands frequently in order to increase chances of eluding the illness.
3. Keep that brand new tube of lipstick to yourself! This is a warning given by doctors across America to their mononucleosis patients. Mononucleosis is better known as “the kissing disease” or simply “mono”. It is a viral infection spread through deep throat kissing or the sharing of personal items, such as lip gloss. Because roommates are likely to borrow each other’s things, and especially those that live in small areas, the disease generally prevalent among freshman-aged students. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever and rash. When infected with “mono,” it is advised to abstain from physical contact.
4. No one likes mold, but unfortunately dorms are full of it. According to Susan Brinchman, founder and executive director of the Center for School Mold Help, fungi can be extremely dangerous to those with pre- existing health problems like asthma. Mold usually grows in damp places, which means kitchen sinks should be cleaned often and dirty or wet clothes should be washed immediately.
5. In August 2008, Texas A&M University spent approximately $37,000 in order to rid their residence halls of bed bugs. An article about the bug raid was featured in USA Today and caused debate amongst health care professionals on ways to prevent the bugs from intervening in student life. To avoid sharing your bed with critters, be sure to wash linens thoroughly and often and disinfect travel luggage.
Be safe Rattlers! Take the necessary steps to remain healthy, strong, and proactive. Keep yourself informed by watching the news for new developments on viruses and bacteria. For more information on health risks, contact the Leon County Health Department, at (850) 606-8150 or visit http://www.leoncountyfl.gov/lchd/.