All of you have heard about swine flu also known as the H1N1 virus. Most of you are probably tired of hearing about it every time you open a newspaper, turn on the television, or go on the computer. Yes, the constant attention may be annoying, but it is nothing to take lightly, especially by college students.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or you just don’t pay attention to current events at all, which all college students should be doing, you should know that President Obama declared the United States in a state of emergency pertaining to the H1N1 virus.
As of October, 46 states have seen widespread traces of the virus. At least 20,000 people in the United States have been hospitalized and more than 1,000 have died.
The number of H1N1 cases has been much higher than projected for this time of year. Obama talked about the fact that the rapid rise of the virus in many regions across the nation has the potential to overburden health care resources. The declaration, signed by the president on Friday, Oct. 23, was mainly a proactive measure and something that will give the government more power to help individual states in need.
We need to understand that living in such close communities, especially like the community here at Cabrini, puts us at a very high risk of contracting the virus. It can’t be taken as a joke. It is a serious health risk that we all need to be aware of and take precautions against.
Sometimes college students seem to have a superman complex. Most of us have the attitude that nothing will affect us, that we are invincible to anything and that is especially true with the swine flu. Everyone needs to assess his or her health and risk of getting the virus.
As of late September, more that 27,000 cases of flu-like illness have been reported in college students from 274 different colleges and universities. Though few have died, it is very easy to have the virus and pass it on to others. As young adults most of us have strong immune systems, but those who we could pass it to like grandparents and younger siblings are at higher risk for death.
Dorm rooms are common places for the virus to be contracted. We live in close quarters with other students, use the same bathrooms, attend the same classrooms and sit next to each other in the dining facilities. You don’t realize how many people you come into contact with every day.
Many schools have made it clear that parties are the cause of widespread outbreaks on campuses across the country. When you’re at a party packed into a small place with a lot of other people it’s very easy to contract illnesses.
At most parties students are sharing cups and cans with friends and strangers. Beer pong and other drinking games are not the best idea. When cups are shared amongst 50, people I would say either don’t play or make sure you win all night. Hooking up with random people at parties often seems to be the favorite pasttime of many college students. This is a clear way to pick up the virus that should be avoided.
We need to start treating swine flu like it is a real serious threat to all of us. If we keep ignoring it and not taking precautions this pandemic could snowball into something much more and affect many more lives.
Cabrini had a set response plan in place in case of a major outbreak of the virus on campus. If you want to check out the plan or learn more about swine flu and Cabrini’s tips to stay healthy, go to cabrini.edu and click student resources and then health services.
We don’t have to avoid fun and stay locked away in a room until the virus tapers off, but be aware and make intelligent decisions. For now, wash your hands, don’t play drinking games at parties and no kissing strangers.