Campus Digest: Western health turns attention to flu season

With classes returning in the heart of flu season, the Western community is turning its attention to prevention.

Flu season arrived early this season, and hit certain areas worse than others, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Health Canada’s FluWatch reported cases of influenza surged in December; January is shaping up to be even more miserable. Concerns are that because the flu struck early, it may hit again in the early spring, since the flu comes in waves and can infect people as late as March or April.

Last year’s season, caused mostly by the H3N2 virus, was quite nasty. This year the H1N1 virus is predominant – at this point, anyway. And while parts of the country are now in the throes of full-on flu outbreaks, the activity level is what one sees during flu season.

Health Canada stated a greater proportion of cases have been reported among adults 20-64 years old, compared to those 65 years or older, which is a change in the demographics from last year.

Western’s Health Services staff stresses getting a flu shot remains one of the most effective ways to prevent catching and spreading the flu virus.

With a health card there is no cost for a flu shot, as it is covered by OHIP. Students can book appointments through Students Health Services, University Community Centre (UCC), room 11, at 519-661-3030. Staff and faculty can book appointments for flu shots by contacting Workplace Health, UCC, room 25, at 519-661-2047.

Beyond the shots, there are some basic steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of catching the flu.

“It’s an old saying, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Nicole Versaevel, Health Services health promotion manager. “We tend to overlook the simple steps we can take, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle in this fight. For instance, washing your hands is very basic, but it’s very effective. “

Among the advice being offered by health officials:

  • Know the symptoms – cough, fever, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches and tiredness;
  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Keep your hands away from your face;
  • Cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hand;
  • Keep common surface areas clean and disinfected; and
  • If you get sick, stay home.

“You can help yourself by following these steps,” Versaevel said, “but you can also help others by not spreading the illness.”


Alumni, students and faculty share their stories on how Western helped them to become who they are in a new fundraising campaign video released last week. The campaign, which seeks to raise $750 million by 2018, looks to position Western among the world’s best universities. Watch the video at

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According to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Western’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository had 30,693 full-text downloads and 33 new submissions posted in November 2013. The five most popular theses were:

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It’s gotta be sweet music for one dean to start the year by.

Don Wright Faculty of Music dean Betty Anne Younker was recently named London Music Scene Personality of the Year for 2013, according to James Reaney, London Free Press entertainment columnist and reporter. Reaney cited Younker’s work on the Western’s new music building and her personal efforts connecting campus and community as reasons for honouring her.

Reaney wrote of Younker, in part,:

…  Younker has made embracing London a part of her Wright ethos. She’s helming a $25-million tune-up of the faculty’s Talbot College and music building. The project will transform the 1972-era music building to meet current codes and other requirements. Faculty fundraising is covering about $5 million of the cost, with Western paying for the rest.

Younker, along with former deans Robert Wood and Jeffrey Stokes and London architect John Nicholson of Nicholson Sheffield Architects, worked on the project’s design and consulted widely.

Younker’s personal touch has had her host a gathering for London choral conductors, which had longtime allies in the community feasting as one for perhaps the first time. …

Younker joins a list of previous London music personalities of the year including Alain Trudel, Orchestra London music director and Western Music faculty professor; Caribou, a 2011 Juno winner; Lara St. John, violinist; Shad, rap artist; and singer-songwriter Meaghan Smith.

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If you have a great idea for supporting the arts, how to better businesses or an entrepreneurial venture of focused on some other creative endeavour, McDonald’s Canada wants to help you fund your ideas.

Students from Western, Queen’s, Ryerson and Wilfrid Laurier are invited to take part in Everyday Creativity, a competition that encourages students to develop ideas on the back of a napkin for the chance to win $5,000 to see it through.

“Some say the best ideas take shape on the back of a napkin, so we’re hoping to spark ingenuity by challenging students to develop big ideas within the confines of one of our napkins,” said Chuck Coolen, senior marketing manager, McDonald’s Canada. “This initiative is about building excitement, enthusiasm, and most importantly, ideas from students across the province to inspire local communities.”

Western students can stop by the 61 Oxford St. location and enter the competition by taking a photo of their idea sketched out on a napkin or piece of paper and post it on  Entry deadline is Feb. 2 .

The Top 20 ideas – five from each campus – will be posted on where students with a CampusPerks account can vote for their favourite idea.

The top four finalists will each receive a toolkit worth $1,000 to help bring their Everyday Creativity idea to life in a McDonald’s restaurant. The grand prize is a $5,000 cheque to help kick-start their next Everyday Creativity idea.