DONOHUE: H1N1: Is ‘Nova ready for the consequences?



Caity Donohue

I don’t consider myself a germophobe. Sure, I take the necessary precautions like everyone else, especially since my immune system hates me.

It’s that very immune system that has brought me into the Health Center on several occasions: a sinus infection that lasted for months last year, the conjunctivitis that passed through my group of friends this year and all the other odd cases that I picked up simply by living in a residence hall.

The majority of Villanova students are living in close proximity in residence halls; we touch the same door handles and light switches and serve ourselves with the same utensils.

The H1N1 virus is a threat that must be taken seriously here. College campuses across the nation have considered closing due to the highly contractible virus.

Mary McGonigle, a director and physician at the Health Center, was kind enough to sit down with me and answer some of my questions. It seems she has been very proactive in trying to make Villanova a site for the H1N1 vaccine.

However, the virus is already present on campus. My roommate just came down with H1N1, and she was sent away to our 10-by-10 room with Tamiflu. I do not have to exaggerate how alarming it was to see her sent back to our room in her condition. It was contradictory that she was being told to be extremely cautious with her illness and to avoid contact with other people, but was then sent back to the residence hall.

More importantly, I know she felt uncomfortable, considering how careful she would have to be, lest she be responsible for spreading it around the Quad.

After talking to McGonigle, I understood that students who cannot be sent home cannot always be housed in the Health Center, and they are generally sent home if they have passed a 24-hour period without a fever.

I’ve done my homework. I know that some illnesses just run their course through your system, and you are fine after time has passed. This is advised because the overuse of antibiotics can create immunity to the medicine, allowing new strains of the infections to develop.

While I, like many, never imagined the illness would be a threat here at Villanova, a recent article by David Knowles restates a warning from the federal government in August that as many as 50 percent of the country’s population could contract the virus. And the virus, according to both physicians and researchers nationwide, hasn’t peaked yet. McGonigle herself said that she foresees the peak period extending through December.

With the height of flu season approaching, appointments at the Health Center appear to be hot commodities.

We’ve all seen the advice for avoiding H1N1 posted all over campus, and here is my very own: take it.

Wash your hands with antibacterial soap. Be more conscientious of the number of times you touch a railing while walking up the stairs. Hopefully, taking precautions like these will allow you to stay out of the Health Center, and to get back to your classes, responsibilities and daily life that much quicker.


Caity Donohue is a sophomore English and secondary education major from Northbrook, Ill. She can be reached at [email protected].