As I sit in class, I hear the familiar noises that usually come hand in hand with incoming exams. Coughs, sneezes, wheezing, and other sounds of illness fill the room. While I don’t think epidemiology is among my favorite classes this semester, the principles of disease transmission are ever present among our class community.
While the idea of One Health is an important topic, it also applies to our class as a whole. We all live and die together. If one person gets sick, then the majority of the group becomes stricken with disease. One day, one individual coughs and the next day everyone in proximity is coughing. With everyone so close together, the illnesses seem to reproduce rapidly, and it won’t be long before everyone is exposed.
Even our teachers have succumbed to illness. One of our teachers lost her voice (thankfully there was a guest speaker that day). On another occasion, we were all surprised to see one of our favorite teachers walking in wearing a face mask and nitrile gloves. She had picked up the flu or something, and had to give nine lectures that week!
Things are spreading, things that I don’t want to catch. At this point, I avoid everyone and everything. I don’t touch anything, wash my hands, and quarantine myself in hopes of not catching something. In fact, things have become so bad that our class chairs decided to purchase bottles of hand sanitizer and cough drops for our lounge to help combat illness.
So far this year, I’ve gone through some sort of long-term cough and just recovered after losing my voice. The health of one individual affects the entire class. I just hope it skips over me this time, because I don’t want to be sick again!