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“I never imagined this would happen to me. I couldn’t believe it when the doctor old me.”

When Candice McFarland met a handsome guy at her friend’s game night last Friday, she thought that it might be the beginning of her eternity. “He was really nice. We started out flirting, and then during the movie we held hands. If I had known the consequences, I would have been much more careful,” she said.

McFarland is one of thousands of students who have jumped into romantic situations, only to find themselves with crippling infections.

Little did McFarland know at the time that the handsome guy was harboring an unseen disease, influenza, or the flu. With a wave of his hand, the guy changed McFarland’s entire week.

“I knew the next day that something was wrong. My throat hurt and my nose was runny. When I went to see the doctor he confirmed that I had been infected with an Hand Transmitted Disease,” said McFarland. “I was so embarrassed. You just never know who could be infected. You have to be so careful.”

Recent studies show that 58% of all flu cases are generated from careless hand-holding. University Flu Specialist, Dr. Gary Steeds encourages students to wear protection when holding hands. “Gloves are an essential part of preventing the spread of the flu. Don’t forget them. It’s just not worth the risk.”

Steeds has compiled a handy list of protective measures that all students should follow to lower their risk of infection:

  • Ask a hand-holding partner if he or she has the flu, has been exposed to it, or has any unexplained physical symptoms. Do not have unprotected hand-holding if your partner has signs or symptoms of the flu, such as sore throat, runny nose, or sore muscles. If your partner has held hands with someone else recently, he or she may have the flu, even if there are no symptoms.
  • Use a new glove for each act of hand-holding. Correct and consistent use of latex gloves can reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Get regular checkups for the flu (even if you show no symptoms), and be familiar with the common symptoms. The flu is readily treated, and the earlier treatment is sought and hand-holding partners are notified, the less likely the disease will do irreparable damage.
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