Flu still a valid campus concern


After all the media hype and worry about H1N1 two years ago, most people seem to be relaxing when it comes to protecting themselves against influenza or 'flu'. But in the academic world, flu can still be a major problem.

In a 13-week semester for example, taking 5-10 days off can be problematic whether you are a student or employee at the University. So, what can you do individually and what can we do as a community to prevent the spread of respiratory-based illnesses?

On an individual level, handwashing remains as the number one strategy in diminishing your chances of getting ill. If you haven't had soap and water on your hands at least three times during a typical day at the University, you haven't washed your hands enough.

When should you wash? You should break out the soap and water after sneezing or coughing, even if you have used a tissue, after toileting and definitely before touching food.

If you haven't cleaned your desk surface within the last few days, or if you are frequently touching your mouth and eyes, you are increasing your risk of illness.

If you do become ill, stay home for the time you are sick. Do not come to the Health Centre when you are ill with a cough/cold/flu. Instead, call us at 403-329-2484 and ask to speak with a nurse who will assess you and assist you with getting appropriate self-care resources or guide you to get medical treatment. Also, consider getting a flu shot in order to avoid illness and missing a chunk of school or work.

On a community level, please think about the people around you. If you have roommates, let them know if you are ill. Everyone in the house should greatly increase cleaning around the bathroom and kitchen areas specifically. As well, clean with a good disinfectant to protect the people around you.

Think about the professors who you are facing. Sneezing spreads droplets toward them at 200 miles per hour – covering your cough with an available Kleenex or even your shirt would be appreciated.

Again, staying home if you are ill protects everyone from your illness!

If you are diagnosed with an illness that can be spread easily, call the Health Centre at 403-329-2484 and ask to speak with a nurse. We will assess the situation and decide upon ways to protect the University from illnesses such as mumps, chicken pox, stomach flus, etc.

Lori Weber is the manager of the University of Lethbridge Health Centre