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Starting their annual trek homewards for Christmas next week will be more students suffering from various wheezes and coughs than has been the case before this recess in the last four years. An unusually, severe December has resulted in over five hundred more visits to the Hygiene Building for respiratory troubles than for the corresponding period last fall, and if past records are any indication of future predictions, this figure is due to increase still more alarmingly after the New Year. This January should be no exception to past seasons, when numerous undergraduates have returned limp and exhausted from the holiday festivities, spreading new foreign germs and eventually taking prolonged rest cures in Stillman.
The usual flood of colds, grippe, and flu in January is caused by the bringing in of new bacteria by men who have become infected during the Vacation. When one goes to a different part of the country, the change of climatic conditions, and the encountering of an atmosphere charged with different types of germs from those in Boston lower his resistance to common respiratory ailments. Students who bring these infections with them not only risk their own possible serious illness, but also they may spread them freely throughout the Harvard community.
Such a situation actually came about in January two years ago, with a resulting mild epidemic of grippe, which overflowed the Infirmary and deprived almost thirty more sick students from receiving hospital care. In view of this danger, authorities at the Hygiene Building urge any ailing student, even if he has only a bad common cold, to remain at home until he feels better. Particularly for those traveling long distances, such infections can easily become serious en route to Cambridge. Students should realize that the responsibility for keeping well rests with them and not with their physicians. If they will cooperate, fewer cases of major sickness will result and the amount of valuable study time lost for Mid-Years can be materially reduced.
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