The air is cooling, the days are getting shorter, and 3-ring binders are on sale at Bartell Drugs. The convergence of these signs can only mean one thing: it’s back to school season. Labor Day weekend is traditionally viewed as the point at which the Northern Hemisphere turns the corner from summer to fall, when the leaves begin to fall from the Northwest’s scant deciduous trees and students of all ages return to their studies. At A.C.E., summer session students continuing into fall will witness wide-eyed freshmen moving into dorms and returning students picking through used textbooks at the campus bookstore. All of these students congregating in one place as the weather declines can be dangerous, though, as any parent or teacher knows.
As students return to school, they can bring germs with them. People are particularly on edge this season, however, as the H1N1 virus threatens to sweep across college campuses. While this threat has created sporadic bouts of panic since the initial outbreak earlier this year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has stated that “what we are seeing looks very much like seasonal flu”. To further assuage the remaining fears, we offer a few simple tips to help protect yourself from any flu contagion.
Schools across the country have already taken precautions, such as placing dispensers of hand sanitizer in hallways and classrooms and putting faculty and staff on watch for symptoms in the classroom. Luckily, treatment for swine flu is really no different than treating any other strain of flu. (If you do happen to contract the virus, you might not even know it. Any flu symptoms should be handled the same way: rest, stay hydrated, take fever medication, and stay away from others until your fever drops.) Because the virus spreads through respiratory particles in a sneeze or cough, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose when heading into the flu season. Wash your hands thoroughly and often (which hopefully you do anyway!) and get a flu shot. Seasonal flu shots will do for now and the H1N1 vaccine should be ready by mid-October, according to the CDC. It’s just that simple. So don’t worry! Go back to school without fear, and focus on your studies. Better to worry about exams than an epidemic: the former is a certainty!