The Student Health Service frequently sees patients concerned about common seasonal illnesses such as the flu, “stomach bugs” and respiratory illnesses that might affect their ability to keep up with academic commitments and social activities. One of the challenges of being a student on a college campus is exposure to illnesses among friends, classmates and hallmates. Communal living environments – as well as busy, active lifestyles – contribute to college students’ risk of contracting common contagious illnesses.
Student Health Service encourages everyone on campus to follow these recommendations to prevent common respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Hand washing and use of hand sanitizers
- Hand washing has been clearly shown to prevent a variety of diseases and is one of the most important ways to protect yourself and others from infections.
- Germs can get into the body through our eyes, nose, and mouth and make us sick. Studies have shown that hand washing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Cover your cough
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put the used tissue in a waste basket.
- If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
- Consider covering your nose and mouth with a face mask to protect others if you are actively coughing.
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in residence hall rooms or apartments, especially when someone is ill. These surfaces include door knobs, faucets, cell phones and other electronics.
- Do not prepare or serve food to others if you are ill with an acute gastrointestinal illness.
- Follow recommendations for keeping residence hall rooms free from extremes in temperature and humidity. Keep clutter at a minimum and avoid blocking HVAC equipment, which can contribute to the formation of mold in the room.
Take your time returning to normal activity
- In general, for most respiratory illnesses, individuals should not return to class until they are feeling better and have gone 24 hours without a fever (without taking any medication for the fever).
- For gastrointestinal illnesses such as noroviruses, individuals may remain contagious for up to two days after their symptoms have resolved. Consequently, they should avoid returning to class for this 48-hour period of time.
- Remember to get a flu vaccine every year. In addition to most pharmacies and doctors’ offices, flu shots are available at Student Health Service for students.
- Be sure to stay up to date with COVID vaccines. The newly released bivalent vaccine is likely to decrease your risk of acquiring COVID. In addition this vaccine is very effective in preventing serious complications if you do get infected with COVID-19.
- Encourage members of your family, your friends, and your hall/suite mates to get their annual influenza vaccine as well as the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine. If those you know are protected from influenza, you will be less likely to get it, too.
- Be sure you are up-to-date on your age appropriate immunizations.
If you are ill
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Maintain good, healthy nutrition if able to eat.
- Resume regular exercise once feeling better.
Students that have any questions or concerns can contact our email firstname.lastname@example.org.