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Back (aaah) to (aaah) school (choo!)

Illustration: Jeff Drew

Back to school, and swine flu warnings abound. The paranoiacs among us are freaking out. I just touched the door and then my nose. The door: smeared with slime marks from thousands of germy UNLV-student fingers, some of which may be carrying swine-ola. I’m in the student union/petri dish, taking in the horror: coughing, sneezing, touching french fries; shaking hands, passing pens, eating pizza. Dilemma: My eye itches.

I recall that in June, UNLV drew up an “institutional guide to assist in the reduction of a pandemic virus spread within its community.” In it were the recommendations: Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Wash your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes. I see a girl finish chips, dial on her cell, bum a cigarette, touch that slimy door, stand outside and hold that cigarette to her lips, sucking it all in. I squish my eye itch with my clean-ish knuckle and a prayer.

There’ve been 294 cases of swine flu in Clark County so far; eight deaths. The Health District is expected to get vaccines later this fall, but here at the university, the mostly young and mostly healthy will be relying on their immune systems. And a little more hand-washing.

Photo of Stacy J. Willis

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