New and returning Rollins students carried many things with them as they poured into the campus a few weekends ago. They brought suitcases and boxes filled with everything from clothes to electronics and other such staple goods of college life. They also brought some less desirable possessions: germs.
Having heard much talk of students coming down with cases of mononucleosis, The Sandspur decided to investigate and headed towards Health Services.
Director Sandra Weisstein said though the number of mono cases has been a little higher than usual for this time of year, with only about five diagnosed cases on campus, the numbers are still small. Additionally, since the incubation period is four to six weeks, any students diagnosed since arriving on campus would have likely contracted the disease over the summer.
Mono is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and spreads primarily through exchange of saliva, anything from make-out sessions to simply sharing a drink with a friend. Those infected may spread the disease before the symptoms appear or after they are gone. Several are exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus but do not develop symptoms or have been exposed in the past and therefore carry antibodies of the antivirus.
The usual symptoms of the virus are a sore throat, fever, and fatigue, which may last longer than the other symptoms. The recovery period is generally two to four weeks, but can vary widely. Weissten remarked that some mono patients are out of school for only a few days, while others take as long as a semester to recover fully.
One girl who was diagnosed with mono the second weekend of school, believed herself to have a very bad case of strep throat, she visited the Lee Health Clinic in Winter Park as the Rollins health center is closed on weekends. She discovered that she was suffering from mononucleosis.
She was surprised, as neither her ex-boyfriend nor any of her friends had shown signs of the disease before she came to Rollins. She spent the balance of the next few days sleeping in her room, but has recovered quickly and is now back to her regular college life.
“[Rollins Health Services] has been very good at following up as I’ve recovered”, she said.
There is certainly no need to lock ourselves in our rooms and wear masks and gloves around; after all, we do not have to worry about swine flu this year. But it is always a good idea to be aware of contagion issues when living in a small, intimate community like the Rollins College campus.
Take advantage of the hand sanitizer dispensers that Rollins has installed in all the dining areas, be careful about sharing drinks, wash your hands, take your vitamins, and eat an apple a day— all that good stuff. Healthy students are successful students.