Protecting Against Campus Infections and Viruses
High school graduation is over, and your adult age child is ready for college. The summer will go by fast while prepping for dorm or off-campus living. While your child is ready to spread their wings, having some real-world conversations about their health is important. Without having mom or dad to run to the rescue at the slightest cough, is your child prepared for these 8 common college illnesses or infections?
- Meningitis – This bacterial infection can wreak havoc on the brain by making membranes around it swell. Students living in dorms are at higher risk for this infection that affects approximately 150-200 students a year. The good news? There is a vaccine available to help to protect against this yucky infection that can damage the spinal cord.
- HPV – This virus can cause cancer, however, there is a vaccine for it. Spread by skin to skin contact and sexual activity, HPV can be prevented. 80% of the population will carry the virus in their life, so the chances of picking it up are high if not vaccinated. Cancers that can occur as a result include throat, cervical, and penile. This is a concern for both boys and girls. Now is a good time to check up on your child’s immunization records. Read more about HPV
- Athlete’s Foot – Whether living in a dorm or a shared apartment or house, most likely your student will be sharing a shower. Without control over other’s hygiene or bathroom and shower cleanliness, it is wise to consider sending your student with a pair of flip-flops dedicated to saving their feet from common athlete’s foot.
- Flu – We are all familiar with the flu, but when you have a bunch of college kids hanging together, germs can spread quickly. Arm your child with germ-fighting wipes to clean their space, as well as talk about common hygiene practices to keep germs at bay. Read more about flu prevention tips
- Skin Rash – Common skin rashes can spread with skin to skin contact. MRSA is a common one, especially with college athletes.
- Mono – Often referred to as “the kissing disease”, this virus will leave your student feeling lethargic and tired, along with enlarged lymph nodes. The virus is spread through saliva, so can be picked up by sharing a drink, bite of food, and kissing. Your student should avoid getting run down. There is not a magic antibiotic that can zap this virus, basically, it has to run its course, and could mean missing a semester of classes or sports.
- Strep – A common sore throat can also be strep. We know germs and viruses can spread quickly, and this can be picked up from a friend before they even know they have it. Treated with antibiotics, this can be taken care of quickly, however never fun to deal with.
- Foodborne Illness – The food plan is often a first-year student’s go to. While this is good, the cafeteria or food hall(aka cruise ship buffet line) can easily be a place to pick up a bug that will send them running to the bathroom.
Your college student can’t live in a plastic bubble, so here are some things to help protect your student’s health and wellness while they are at college:
- Good hygiene and cleanliness
- Purchase anti-bacterial sheets that are 99.5% effective in eliminating bacterial germs, EVEN if they are NOT washed. The additional benefit, it can help heal skin issues such as acne and eczema.
- Clorox wipes to wipe down their dorm.
- Vaccinate for HPV
- Vaccinate for Meningitis
- Cover mouth or nose with the elbow when sneezing or coughing.
- Wash hands prior to eating
- Don’t share eating or drinking utensils