Drug-resistant infection raises student's concern

Question: Recently in the news there have been more frequent occurrences of Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus, to the extent that schools have been closing in order to prevent spread of the infection. I don't intend to cause a scare, but is this a concern at Geneseo? I know prevention is relatively easy with some basic hygiene (washing hands, cleaning surfaces) but is there a need to be particularly vigilant?

Answer: Although the news media has been full of stories about MRSA recently, this organism is not new. MSRA has been identified for years. What has changed is where it is being found. Previously found only in health-care facilities and infecting mostly immunocompromised patients, it is now found in the "community" (e.g., schools, athletic facilities) and is causing infections in otherwise healthy people. We have seen infections caused by MRSA at Geneseo the past two academic years, but not to date this year. Previous cases have been identified and have responded to antibiotics that we have in our Health Services pharmacy. There is a need to be vigilant about reporting and evaluating skin infections; you are correct in stating that good hygiene methods do prevent infections.

Question: What are the benefits/detriments of getting the flu vaccine, and who should get them?

Answer: The flu vaccine is recommended to prevent influenza as a yearly immunization. It is now recommended for children six months to five years old, adults over 50, and those in between with chronic illnesses that put them at risk for severe disease (asthma, diabetes and immune-suppressed states, etc.). We recommend that our "healthy" students on campus also be immunized due to the close living quarters that comprise our college community. Detriments are few. People with a known severe allergy to eggs should not get the flu shot. Those acutely ill with a fever should delay their shot until after the fever resolves. Side effects of the flu shot are mild and consist mainly of redness and soreness at the site of the injection; there is also the possibility of a brief, low-grade fever. However, contrary to what some believe, the flu shot will not give you the flu!

Question: What is the process for getting birth control for the first time? Just an appointment and check up or is a gynecological exam needed too? I was also wondering about costs.

Answer: A full exam is needed on a yearly basis in order to receive birth control pills. The annual exam includes a breast exam, a pelvic exam and a pap smear, along with other tests if needed. The Livingston County Health Department is providing this service for Geneseo students here at Lauderdale on Tuesdays. The cost is on a sliding fee scale and in many cases, this turns out to be at no cost to you. Please call 235-5738 for an appointment with the Reproductive Health Center.

Question: Do you charge more to students living off campus?

Answer: No, we do not. In fact, we do not charge any student for our services (including both Health and Counseling visits) or medications received through us so long as the students has paid their student health fee (part of their tuition). There are charges for certain extra services, such as immunizations, birth control pills and labs that are sent out; however, all students pay the same fees, regardless of whether they live on campus or off.

(This column is courtesy of the Lauderdale Center for Student Health and Counseling. YAWA is an anonymous, online Q & A Service on the Health & Counseling Web site. If you have a question for YAWA, log onto go.geneseo.edu/yawa).