Flu prevention top priority of DSU custodial staff

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The flu may not be a major concern of many Dixie State University students, but after three deaths during this flu season in southern Utah, perhaps it should be.

According to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, there have been three flu-related deaths and 33 hospitalizations in southern Utah. The victims were all under the age of 64.

Dr. David Blodgett, from the Southwest Utah Public Health, told KSL.com, “They’re younger than we traditionally see in flu deaths. All of them are younger than 64. Usually, that age range is not where we see any of the deaths. It’s also true that they were fairly healthy.”

DSU’s custodial staff is taking precautions to ensure a clean and healthy campus during the flu season. Custodial Supervisor Paul Whitlatch said he puts students’ safety and well being first. In fact, it’s his motto.

“The safety of the students is the biggest priority,” Whitlatch said. “My own daughter is a student here, so I really do care.”

Whitlatch said the custodial staff is doing everything possible to keep the flu virus from spreading around campus.

“We’re being more diligent,” Whitlatch said. “We are using hospital-grade disinfectant. We are cleaning door handles, door windows, desks and chairs every single night.” 

Whitlatch said because of the lack of serious cases at DSU, he believes the flu virus has been well controlled.

“We are letting the disinfectant sit longer to make sure it kills all germs,” Whitlatch said. “We disinfect every day, but make sure to wash your hands after every class. Our soap has moisturizers in it so it won’t dry out your skin.” 

The Health and Wellness Center has had just two or three students come in to seek treatment for the flu this season, said Shauna Zundel, a registered nurse at the Health and Wellness Center. However, Zundel warns that students are more susceptible to the flu because of the close quarters of the university.

“The flu hits different people differently,” Zundel said. “If you have a fever or pain, nausea, vomiting, or feel like you’re getting worse, you should see a doctor. Dehydration can be serious, and a high fever can make dehydration more likely.”

DSU students can utilize the Health and Wellness Center with or without insurance. Each visit is $10. Students can call 435-652-7756 to make an appointment.

Students like Ricardo Robles, a freshman business major from Mesquite, Nev., are lethargic about the extreme flu cases and don’t fear catching it.

“I don’t think students are afraid of getting the flu,” Robles said. “I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff, but maybe I should be more concerned.” 

Adam Witt, a junior communication major from St. George, is not worried about coming down with the flu, either.

“I haven’t had the flu since childhood,” Witt said. “So it just doesn’t hit my priority list.”

Zundel recommends everyone get a flu shot, keep up with immunizations, and be aware of the condition of his or her health.

“Remember when you’re sick you can get others ill,” Zundel said. “Be conscious of your neighbor. I know it’s tough to be sick to first weeks of school, but come in and we’ll help.”