Dorm rooms are destinations for diseases

Dorm rooms are destinations for diseases



Posted on August 31, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 31 at 11:41 AM

SALT LAKE CITY, UT -- College freshman are facing adjustments as they start their new student life - and they run the risk of being exposed to some diseases.

On campus students will come in contact with hundreds of people every day, which means they'll also run into germs.

Some of those germs have serious implications.

Even in the cleanest environment, such as freshmen Christine Black's dorm room at the University of Utah, germs can hide in all sorts of places.

"That's really all I think about. I'm kind of a germ freak," she said."

She's studying nursing and is used to washing her hands anywhere from seven to ten times every afternoon.

Stringent personal hygiene is exactly what epidemiologist Eileen Risk recommends because "a lot of the diseases within a college dorm situation are spread from person to person."

Diseases like mono-nucleosis, or the kissing disease.

Risk says health experts are mainly concerned with diseases like meningitis, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing, sharing drinks and utensils.

"That's the one that is most concerning because it has such serious complications and sometimes results in death," Risk said.

Health experts are also concerned about sexually transmitted diseases.

In fact, the CDC reports 20 to 25 percent of U.S. college students are infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

"Anytime you have sexual contact, a condom should be used. It can prevent a lot of serious illness…including HIV and AIDS," Risk said

As college kids take advantage of that new found freedom, they might engage in binge drinking or even depriving themselves of sleep to party or get homework done.

The University of Utah's Dr. Sankar Swaminathan says both can lower your body's ability to fight diseases.

"No matter how careful you are if your immune system is depressed, you're more likely to get sick," he said

It may sound simple, but medical experts agree that washing your hands frequently and getting vaccinated can keep you healthy - and in some cases, keep you alive.