Although flu season is winding down, it is certainly not over. On March 13, I listened to a lecture from an Influenza expert here on campus. He has three active labs at UF and studies vaccines, flu viruses, animal-borne illness, and other aspects of epidemiology. He set up airborne illness detectors around campus, and after evaluation of variety and prevalence, he told us the specific times when he sees viruses at their peak: right after breaks. People go back to their homes and return to Gainesville with new viruses, exposing us Gators to different viruses, especially the flu. As a public health major, I want the world to be a healthier place for everyone. Here are some tips so we can all have a healthy semester.
1. Wash Your Hands
I cannot stress this enough. We have about 80,000 students and professors here at UF. This means about 160,000 hands touching our shared desks, door handles, water fountains, bus handles, and any other part of campus. Washing your hands (with soap) will wash the viruses picked up on campus down the drain.
2. Convince Your Sick Friends to Stay Home
Sick people should really stay in bed for two reasons: themselves and others. By staying home and resting, they can focus on improving personal health. Another great reason is that it prevents spreading the virus to others. If your friend is sick, encourage them to stay home to get better—and to save yourself from their illness. Whatever reason you tell them is up to you.
3. Don’t Touch Your Face
The flu viruses make you sick if they meet your mucous membranes. This means avoid touching your nose, eyes and eyelids, and mouth.
4. Get Vaccinated
Although it’s not as effective as we want it to be, it is still a good idea to get your flu shot every year. This builds your immune system to attack the viruses. It does not make you entirely safe from the viruses though, so my next tip is very important.
5. Protect Yourself
You cannot rely on others to keep their illness away from you—you must keep yourself away from it. Making sure your immune system is strong, your vaccines are up to date, your hands are washed, your surfaces are clean, and your air is not infected seems impossible, but it is important if you do not want to get sick. Let’s build a culture of personal prevention, and reduce the spread of the flu on campus.