In an effort to counteract the spread of H1N1 and other strains of influenza, Physical Plant hopes to install 200 new hand sanitizer dispensers throughout campus by Homecoming Weekend.

Using a map of campus, the University Business Continuity Planning Committee pinpointed various high-traffic areas, including the Usdan Center, computer labs, and most building entrances, as places where the new dispensers will be installed.

According to Director of the Health Center Joyce Walter, the dispensers are free but contingent on buying a set number of refills.

Walter hopes that having hand sanitizer available in so many new locations will encourage students to clean their hands on a regular basis.

“We’re trying to make things convenient,” Walter said. “[Hand-sanitation] should become almost a habit: before class, after eating.”

The influenza virus attacks mucus membranes of the face, such as the nostrils, eyes, and mouth. The virus generally spreads from an infected individual to others through coughing or sneezing, University Medical Director Dr. Davis Smith explained. To avoid transmitting the virus, he encouraged students experiencing flu-like symptoms to wash their hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.

“Waterless sanitizer is no better than soap and water,” Smith wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “Having dispensers in many locations is mostly for convenience and to serve as a reminder regarding the importance of frequent hand washing.”

Even with the installation of hand sanitizers, Smith does not expect the flu to disappear from campus.

“If everybody was scrupulous about hand-washing and cough etiquette, [the additional hand sanitizers] would have a huge impact,” Smith said. “Though it wouldn’t mean there would be no flu.”

The dispensers will be installed in most buildings on campus; woodframe houses and smaller program houses, however, will not be included. Jeff Miller, Associate Director of Facilities Management explained that smaller houses have convenient access to hand washing, unlike larger buildings.

More than anything, the new dispensers are meant to remind the campus community to keep hygiene in mind.

“Seeing hand sanitizer everywhere sort of impresses on people the importance of hand hygiene,” Smith said. “And it’s an easy way to do it.”

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