Germs, mold and everything in-between

Emma Derr

When I came to college, I worried about all the normal things: Would I bring the right clothes? Will I like my roommate? Will I get all the classes I want? Would I struggle with the workload?

The last question on my mind was would I bring enough cough drops and tissues to sustain a large class of sniffly preschoolers prone to sickness?

Very quickly, I learned that this is the amount of cough drops and tissues necessary to survive college.

In September, as the freshman class lugged their bendable lamps, fuzzy rugs and humorous posters into their dorms, they brought their germs as well.

Thus was born the “Freshman Plague.” This rampant disease had everyone, including upper classmen, hacking up a storm by the end of O-week, and, to our dismay, it did not suffice until the 14-day virus ran its cycle.

Even then, many held onto the plague’s lingering effects. “The first day I got here, I got sick,” Collette Murray, ‘20, said. “It has been two months, and I still have a cough that sounds like I have a lung disease.”

After this largely unexpected and unpleasant experience, there was a renewed impetus to be as cleanly as possible – to always wear shoes in the dorm, wash your hands a thousand times a day, not share food or drinks and get some rest.

Unfortunately, for many of us, this initiative was short lived, and the sore throats and stuffy noses persisted. Now, our community now faces a more serious sickness: mononucleosis.

Mono, commonly known as the “kissing disease,” can be spread largely through sharing drinks. While it is has only infected a very small portion of the student population so far, it is an illness that has the potential to spread quickly if the community is not careful.

Because the disease takes, on average, four to six weeks to run its course and its main symptom is extreme fatigue, it is in everyone’s best interest to stay ahead of this one.

An important environmental element that should not be ignored is the presence of mold. Last week, mold was discovered in the Kappa Delta sorority house as well as in certain areas of Woods Creek Apartments.

Paige Williams, a resident of the KD house, said she was worried by the mold.

“Lots of girls have been waking up with sore throats in the morning, complaining of swollen lymph nodes, and saying they have facial swelling,” she said. “And the girls with allergies have said they have swollen eyes and some hives.”

These are common symptoms of a mold allergy that most people do not even realize they have. But mold can potentially cause bigger problems,such as longer-term respiratory issues.

J“While the maintenance staff has been incredible about treating the mold when I call them, I feel like the school needs a long term solution for this problem,” Julia Udicious, ‘19, resident of Woods Creek, said.

Between rampant germs, unavoidable contact with other students and mold, the Washington and Lee community has an uphill battle against sickness. With meticulous care, cleanly facilities, and personal hygiene, we can work to keep the worst of it away – for ourselves and for everyone else.