Just as colleges and universities begin classes, the CDC reports that incidence of Swine Flu has increased in some places, mostly notably the Southeast. Experts have long been warning that a second round of the pandemic is imminent once the school year begins again. To date, the virus has killed 500 Americans.
So before you back your bags to head back to school, here’s what you need to know about this virus and how you can stay healthy:
What is the Swine Flu virus?
The virus, which is medically referred to as the H1N1 influenza A virus, affects primarily pigs. But recently a strain was transmitted to humans and now this very contagious virus is being passed all around the globe.
What are Swine Flu symptoms?
The Swine Flu produces flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, body aches, cough and malaise.
Is there a vaccine?
Currently a vaccination for the Swine Flu is in its trial phases and will likely be available to the public in mid to late October. Already, the government has spent $1.15 billion on enough vaccines to immunize the entire U.S. population. If the Obama administration gives the green light for a full-scale vaccination program, it will be the largest and quickest vaccination program in world history.
How can I protect myself around campus?
Here are the CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself from getting the Swine Flu:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. You can also use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
While avoiding contact might be difficult in crowded dorms, fraternity houses and apartment buildings, consider wearing a mask and keeping eating utensils and hygiene supplies like toothbrushes clean and separate from housemates who may be sick.
In addition, refrain from sharing pens, laptops, computer keyboards, MP3 players or any other device that easily attracts germs. At the fitness center, wipe down exercise equipment before and after you use it with a sanitizing spray (the gym should have a bottle easily available. If they don’t, request a few to be placed around the workout facility.).
Back in your dorm or apartment, frequently sanitize communal areas like refrigerators, door knobs and microwaves.
How can I find out what my college is doing to prevent the spread of Swine Flu on campus?
Schools and academic institutions around the country are hard at work setting in place a variety of protective measures to ensure the safety of their student bodies. To find out what your school is doing, contact your university’s health and safety department.