Keeping your college student healthy

September 6, 2010 College campuses are buzzing with new and returning students, but as fun as living in a dorm can be it also puts your child in contact with lots of different germs.

Mantha Petrovich was stunned when her college roommate came down with H1N1 or swine flu last fall.

"I freaked out for a little bit, 'cause you're in such close quarters that I'm gonna get this next, and I don't want to go home."

Indeed, college campuses, like the University of Delaware, were among the epicenters of the H1N1 flu.

Mantha moved quickly to get the flu virus out of her living space.

"While she was sick, I cleaned the doorknobs and the microwave and fridge all the time. And the remote, I always grabbed it with the Clorox wipe or something like that."

Her proactive approach, which also included lots of hand washing, helped her avoid the flu, and is the key to staying healthy in college. Immunizations are another important defense. That includes annual flu shots, plus up-to-date vaccines for pertussis and varicella, or chicken pox.

"The varicella virus is one that they are almost definitely going to be exposed to when they go to college, because not everyone has had the disease, or may not have been vaccinated," said Dr. Jonathan Pletcher an adolescent health specialist.

A first aid kit is also a must for the dorm room. And go over the dosing instructions for all medications both prescription and over-the-counter.

"So they're not over-using something that is perceived to be benign, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, which, if they're using it too frequently could really lead to some severe symptoms or health problems," said Dr. Pletcher.

And one more vaccine is the meningitis vaccine. It is required for college-bound students in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and it is highly recommended in most other states.

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