By Kelsey Cardace
Sore throats. Stuffy noses. Excessive coughing. Classes had just started when students began spreading the sickness deemed as the “UMD Plague.”
Adults have an average of two to three colds each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and close proximity to others is one of the best ways to spread germs. Unfortunately for college students, people are everywhere.
“Everyone got sick at once so the cold just spread really quickly,” Priyal Patel, freshman biochemistry major, said.
On the campus, students encounter shared bathrooms, tables at the dining halls and cafes that do not get cleaned between uses and other breeding grounds for germs, which is why the Plague is almost inescapable.
“Based on the number of people to whom one is exposed, congregated living does tend to lead to more transmissible infections,” David McBride, director of the University Health Center, said.
Patel said she had cold symptoms, including a sore throat and runny nose, and believed that her new and “not very clean” on-campus housing could have been the cause.
For Patel, the sickness lasted for three days, but for some, it lasted much longer.
Chloe Isaac, sophomore art and communication major, said she had a “really bad cold” that lasted about a week.
“I went on a retreat during the first week of September, and as soon as I got back I realized I was sick,” she said.
Although she lives in the University Courtyard apartments, Isaac could not escape the cold.
“Someone from school on the retreat was sick, so we all caught it,” she said.
According to McBride, however, there is little hope for the beginning-of-the-year plague to end. Colds continue to happen all year, he said.
McBride added that December to March is flu season, the busiest time of the year for the health center, and recommended that all students get a flu shot.
The health center gives out flu shots to students for free, along with FluMist, a $20 nasal spray, as the student has insurance coverage.
McBride also advised that students wash their hands frequently and to stay at home if they are already sick to avoid infecting others.