- The Huffington Post reports on an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease at Florida State University, where more than a dozen cases of infection have been discovered and have led to a mass sanitation initiative for all public spaces.
- Campuses are ideal settings for viral outbreaks, given the volume of people and their proximity to each other and surfaces available for touch like doorknobs, desks and computers.
- School officials must take care in identifying early signs of virus infection, and be prepared to alert students and communities about next steps in recognizing symptoms and prevention methods.
Most colleges and universities do a good job responding to viral outbreaks or widespread health concerns, ranging from common infections like the flu or food poisoning to more severe infections like this one. But what colleges must become more proficient at doing is communicating about viral infection at earlier stages of identification.
Alerts to students, faculty and staff shouldn't wait for several cases to be confirmed, but rather, at the first diagnosis of an illness that could be contagious. This was how several universities in Florida responded to the Zika virus, and is a model that colleges, which are always at the mercy of student social media reaction, should follow.