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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “New school, new diseases”

    New school, new diseases

    With the start of a new semester comes new health concerns for students, especially those living in the dorms.

    Campus Health Services warns that many factors contribute to the rise in infectious disease that accompanies each new semester, including the close living quarters and the introduction of new illnesses by people who have been out of town.

    “”At the beginning of each semester or long break from school, we do see more colds and respiratory infections, because people just get back from someplace else and they are sharing their germs with everyone else,”” said Leeann Hamilton, Campus Health assistant director of health promotion.

    Cold, influenza, upper respiratory infections, and stomach and intestinal illnesses are among the top sicknesses of students who visit Campus Health.

    “”Well yeah, I’ve been sick,”” said John Gemmer, an applied mathematics graduate student. “”But we work in small offices, and there is really nothing I can do but keep going.””

    Along with typical illnesses, sexually transmitted diseases are common among students.

    “”The top three STDs we most frequently see are genital herpes, HPV and chlamydia, although not necessarily in that order,”” Hamilton said.

    The only sure way a student can keep themselves fully protected from STDs is to stay abstinent. For those who choose not to take that option, however, condoms are the next best bet.

    “”If you have a penis or one of the people who is participating does, put a condom on it,”” Hamilton said. “”Also, we’re hoping that now that there is the HPV vaccine Gardasil, people will be getting that, and the numbers will go down.””

    The pharmacy on campus offers different types of contraceptives for less than most other locations, including a 100-condom pack for $12.99.

    Aside from sicknesses that students get on a regular basis, meningitis is one of the most serious infectious diseases someone can get from living in close quarters. While initial symptoms resemble the flu, meningitis is an infection of the fluid in the spinal cord, which then affects the fluid surrounding the brain, Hamilton said.

    In a typical year, just over 120 young people nationwide are afflicted with meningitis. In 2007, a student was hospitalized at Northern Arizona University for exhibiting symptoms of meningitis – the only such case in Arizona last year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

    “”We take meningitis very seriously,”” said Hamilton. “”If anyone came down with it, we have a plan to go to where we need and vaccinate anyone who has been exposed and anyone who needs vaccinations.””

    Campus Health has posted flyers in residence halls and around campus entitled “”Sick Happens,”” that not only make students aware of what illnesses they are exposed to on a regular basis, but also how to keep themselves healthy. The list includes washing hands, staying hydrated, eating healthy and avoiding touching the eyes and mouth.

    “”Good hygiene and common sense are really the keys to keeping yourself healthy,”” Hamilton said. “”Tired students generally get more sick than others; that’s common sense. Avoiding excessive alcohol and drugs is part of that common sense.””

    Gemmer said that students should just try to stay healthy, although it is difficult to avoid disease entirely.

    “”You can get your vitamins and sleep, but sometimes you can’t avoid it and you just need to deal with it,”” Gemmer said.

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