Illness etiquette for Grossy McGrossgross
Cooler weather brings a sarcastic but serious look at germs
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 18:09
Fall is here! But that means the sniffles are not far behind. That also means sick people on public transit, classrooms and dorms.
Gross people everywhere!
Jokes aside, some people need to learn sickness etiquette. There are too many people sneezing into their hands and then touching classroom desks, too many people sneezing into the air on the CTA and too many people sneezing in your food in the dining center.
It has to stop.
And it’s not just sneezing - coughing, drooling and nose picking are all out to get us too.
Is that completely gross? Well, yes. Who really wants to be responsible for infecting the walls where learning takes place?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 million school days are lost to colds each year. And getting rid of a cold is not as simple as taking a pill. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause cold-like symptoms, and what may seem like the common cold could turn out to be the flu. No one wants that.
Believe me, I am not mad at you for being sick - no one really is.
But don’t make us sick. Some of us do a good job with our immune systems. Granted, I play in dirt and eat the occasional undercooked egg (full disclosure: I do not know if that helps, nor can I recommend it). However, I do not want myself, for lack of a better word, exposed.
Eh hem - If you are the person who coughs in your hand and then eats food off your desk, that desk has probably been sneezed on. And the germy cycle goes round and round.
So let’s talk etiquette.
The first step: cover your mouth, pretty please. I am constantly amazed by how many people sneeze into the open air. There’s tissue, stylish handkerchiefs, even the vampire sneeze: the way a vampire hides behind his cape is the way you should hide your cough.
You also want to avoid touching your face, especially your nose, eyes and mouth. According to a 2008 study of University of California - Berkeley students found that they touched their face an average of 16 times an hour. That could lead to a Contagion-style outbreak.
Washing your hands with soap and warm water can cut down on the spread of germs.
The CDC also recommends the sick stay at home. It is just polite. It beats wearing one of those doctor’s masks over your mouth.
So even as the cold weather steps in, let’s say bon voyage to the sniffles and the stifled coughs.
The CDC reports that on average up to 20 percent of the American population get the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications, and about 36,000 even die from flu-related cause.
So if you feel sick, take care of yourself. Stay home, drink some cough syrup and have some soup.
After all, healthy students are happy students.