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November 01, 2013
Vol. 55 No. 8

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SU seeks ways to keep healthy

As the cold winter months approach, so does the risk of contracting sicknesses, particularly the flu. During these months, it is important to be aware of health practices, including the hygiene maintenance of objects around campus.
One such example is the campus computers and their level of sanitation. Susquehanna has several areas for public computer use, with two of the biggest ones being the computer labs located in the Degenstein Campus Center and the Blough-Weis Library.
Christine Bombaro, library director, and Susan Musser, library administrative assistant, said that on average 125 students use the library computers on a daily basis. This includes not just the library's desktop computers but also the laptops.
Bombaro and Musser said that these computers are sanitized by student workers in the library. Over breaks the student workers use alcohol, cotton swabs and compressed air to clean the keyboards, mouse pads and mice. Some students even go farther and wash the mouse pads and dry them out in the sun.
This cleaning is done to all the desktops and laptops in the library, including the teaching lab. Additionally, the cleaning staff also wipes off work surfaces.
Besides these cleanings, Bombaro and Musser said that containers of Clorox, jars of hand sanitizer and tissues are readily available to students, which can be seen in visible and accessible areas around the library. They added that studentsare using these products, proven by the fact that the library buys replacement containers. Bombaro and Musser also said that this practice started right after the H1N1 virus scare a few years ago. However, cleaning the computer equipment over breaks was routine before that time.
The Degenstein Campus Center computer lab also has its own cleaning practices with its computers. Mark Huber, chief information officer and director of Information Technology, and Deirdre Miller-Coup, administrative assistant to the chief information officer, said that the computer lab is cleaned every day and the computers are regularly wiped down using a cleaning product called Alpha Sanitizer, or Alpha-HP. This is not a new practice and is something that is kept consistent throughout the year, not just during flu season. Chris Bailey, director of facilities, said that Alpha Sanitizer is used for most of the lab cleaning.
"This product contains hydrogen peroxide and is a disinfectant for hard surfaces," Bailey said. "However I don't know how effective the spray is on a surface like a keyboard. While we do our best to regularly clean this equipment and all hard surfaces to reduce the any viruses or bacteria that might be present, there is no way to completely sanitize any surface."
Therefore, Bailey advised students to wash their hands often, especially after working on a shared computer.
In order to stay healthy during this upcoming flu season, Administrative Director of the Susquehanna Health Center Margaret Briskey said that the biggest recommendation is to get the flu shot. Other hygienic procedures, Briskey said, include washing hands frequently and thoroughly, staying home when sick, avoiding others when they are sick, disinfecting and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and washing linens and eating utensils and dishes belonging to those who are sick before sharing with others.
"It is important to wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. This should be done before using computers," Briskey said. "After touching any common surface, do not touch your hands to your face, eyes, nose and mouth, as these are portals of entry for viruses into your own body."
Briskey added that these recommendations aren't just for the flu season, which she said is usually the months between November and March, but for the whole year. This year, she said that there have been no reported cases of the flu and in the last three years there have been less than five reported cases. This is a decrease in reported cases, which she said is believed to be attributed to an increase of students receiving the flu vaccination.
For more information on the flu vaccination and how to stay healthy during the flu season and year-round, contact the Health Center.

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