Photo by: Kelsa Katzfey

With all the illnesses and viruses during these long and cold winter months, it can seem impossible to stay healthy, especially if you live on campus or in close quarters with multiple roommates. Washing your hands should seem like second nature for us at this point, but surprisingly enough, that’s not the case for everyone.

February is the month with the highest number of outbreaks of influenza. The flu virus can be present as late as the month of May even though the weather seems to be warming up according to the Center of Disease Control.

I always seem to be busy with studying, classes, quizzes and tests, work, etc. and like most of us busy college students, I don’t have time to stay in bed because of an illness. Washing your hands consistently can greatly reduce your risk of getting sick.

Why it’s so important

According to, hand washing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16% and can reduce the risk of diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50%. Since a large amount of food-borne diseases are spread by contaminated hands, be sure to wash your hands before cooking, especially for a large group of people or roommates.

By simply just washing your hands before touching food or eating, after using the gym, after using the bathroom, after classes, etc. you can help yourself from contracting a serious illness that could have been prevented.

Ways to prevent getting sick

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water

Keep your room clean and tidy

Stay clear of people who might be sick

Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet

Get your flu shot!

Be sure to get enough rest

Symptoms to watch out for

Runny nose


Sore throat



Body aches


Muscle pain

Loss of appetite

If you feel symptoms of illness, contact the Ask-A-Nurse Message Line at 507-457-2292 to speak confidentially with a nurse. It’s still not too late to get your flu shot! Call WSU Health and Wellness services at 507-457-5160 to make an appointment or visit them in IWC room 222.