Students fighting springtime illnesses

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The spring semester has students battling more than pop quizzes and 10-page papers.

Allergies, colds and the flu are being felt across campus.

“I actually have noticed an increase in illnesses among my friends and residents as compared to other semesters,” said Olivia Cartwright, a junior theatre major and a resident assistant in Tom Brown/Pete Wright apartments. “I had a really bad cold, and one of my residents had the flu a few weeks ago.”

Texas is in the midst of flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


2018-2019 Weekly Influenza Season chart showing Texas at a high ILI (Influenza-Like Illness) Activity Level. Photo courtesy: CDC

The TCU Health Clinic reported 21 confirmed cases of the flu since the beginning of the spring semester, said Dr. Jane Torgerson, medical director of the TCU Health Clinic. Last week was the first time they have seen a major increase in confirmed flu cases, she said.

“When students are coming back in mid-January, it’s when the flu populates, and we’re seeing a lot of flu now,” said Torgerson.

Torgerson said there’s a simple way to avoid the flu: Get a flu shot.

“I think 100 percent of the students at TCU who have gotten the flu have not had the vaccination,” Torgerson said. “I’m not saying you can’t get the flu if you get the shot, but the shot seems to be a good match this year.”

Mark Dennis, an associate professor focused on east Asian religions, offered up a unique way students can use to stay healthy.

“Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, has started researching what meditation, mindfulness, yoga and these kinds of mind body practices do for the body,” Dennis said. “These practices can help with depression, anxiety, ADHD, and the immune system.”

Meditation helps the immune system because it lowers stress levels, and higher stress levels have been shown to negatively impact a person’s immune system, Dennis said.

Flu season in Texas spans from now until March, so students need to be careful about spreading germs.

“When something like the flu is going around, even simple things like showing someone your phone and them taking it can spread germs,” Torgerson said. “You should really avoid things like that.”

There are also precautions that professors and TCU staff can take to avoid spreading cold and flu to their students.


KTCU sound board with hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray nearby. Photo courtesy: Jake Hook

Geoff Craig, KTCU co-manager, has had plenty of experience with trying to keep himself and his student employees from getting sick.

“Surprisingly, we haven’t seen many illnesses so far at the radio station, but we have done a really good job of disinfecting the station,” Craig said. “We use Lysol a lot. We have boards that everyone is touching on and microphones that everyone is breathing and coughing on, so we have to disinfect at least once a week.”

As the semester continues and different springtime illnesses spread, Torgerson wants to give students few words of advice on how to avoid the springtime illnesses to which many students fall victim.

“Sleep is huge. If people get less than 6 or 7 hours, they get colds much more frequently,” Torgerson said. ““If you know you have allergies, really, really stay on your medicine, because if your allergies get really bad it is so much easier to get sick on top of that.”

The TCU Health Center is open Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

To make an appointment, visit the health center or call 817-257-7940.