Anatomy of a Safe, er, Less Dangerous Mirror Lake Jump

Be Safe Bucks!

Rumor has it that thousands of students will Jump into Mirror Lake on Tuesday evening.  Our health and safety concerns are not likely to impede this event, so let’s consider a few steps to make it safer.

Feet:  Wear something on your feet!  Between glass shards on High Street and sticks in the grass and unknown objects buried in the muck on the bottom of the lake, bare feet are prime targets for cuts and other trauma.  At a minimum, consider wearing a cheap pair of flip-flops, strapped on with duct tape so that they don’t fall off in the mud.

Neck:  Never, ever dive into Mirror Lake or any other shallow, murky body of water.  The risk of disaster, including catastrophic injury to the brain or spine, is ridiculously high.

Skin:  When running, jumping, wading, and falling meets rocks, sticks, broken glass, and throngs of partiers, there is great opportunity for bruises, abrasions, and lacerations.  Add contamination with skanky lake water, and risk for infection is high.  When you get home, take a shower (seems like reasonable advice regardless) and pay special attention to wash any broken skin with soap and water. 

Eyes:  If you wear contact lenses, consider leaving them at home.  At a minimum, take out the contacts as soon as you get home and wash or replace them.  Skanky water (a recurring theme) + contact lenses + horseplay + late night =  increased risk for funky mirror lake eye infection, especially if the cornea has been abraded by friction from the contact lens. 

Hypothermia:  Our colleagues in the Emergency Department at the OSU Wexner Medical Center tell us that many of the students who end up in the ER in the hours during and after the Jump suffer from hypothermia.  This isn’t surprising given typical midnight temperatures in Columbus in late November coupled with the dubious heat-retaining properties of a wet pair of speedos.  The nature of the Jump does not lend itself to staying warm and snuggly, but it also does not require coursework in computational astrophysics to appreciate that intoxication makes hypothermia all the more dangerous.

Soul:  Friends don’t let friends do the Mirror Lake Jump alone.  Go with a friend.  Keep track of your friend.  If there’s trouble, ask for help.  Call 9-1-1.  Do the right thing.

If you Jump, please be safe.  FYI, Student Health Services will be open Wednesday.

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

James R. Jacobs, MD, PhD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Wash those germs right off of your hands!

Have you ever considered the door knobs/handles in your dorm?  Think about it for a minute.  How many people live in your dorm?  All of those people are going in and out of the dorm, perhaps multiple times each day and every time they do they are touching those knobs/handles.  And then you come along and you touch that knob/handle.  You have just exposed yourself to the germs that were on the hands of everyone else who used that knob/handle – YUCK!

Now consider the door knobs/handles of your classrooms and buildings.  How many people are taking classes in those buildings?  Again, every time you touch that knob/handle you are exposing yourself to the germs that were on the hands of everyone else who used that knob/handle – again YUCK!

Is it any wonder that college students get sick?!!  The most effective thing you can do to avoid getting sick, according to the CDC, is to wash your hands.  Frequent washing will help to limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. 

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.

Don’t underestimate the power of hand washing! The few seconds you spend at the sink could save you trips to Student Health Services.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Honesty is the best Policy

When you come to an appointment at Student Health, we ask you a lot of questions.  Some of these may seem to be unrelated to your appointment, but all of these questions serve a purpose and it’s important that you answer them honestly.

What is the reason for your visit?  The answer you give to this question directly impacts how your provider prepares for you visit.  If you schedule an appointment for a sore throat, but you really want the provider to check out your hemorrhoids, well that would be quite a surprise for your provider and any preparation that has been done for that sore throat would be time wasted.  In some cases an incorrect reason for visit may result in the rescheduling of an appointment as the real reason could require additional time or a specific room.  Be honest when scheduling your appointment and tell them why you need to be seen.

Do you use tobacco and if so how much/often?  The perils of smoking have been touted all over the news, lung cancer, heart disease, premature aging, and so on.  Tell your provider of your tobacco usage, even if it’s one cigarette a week.  This is part of your history and can affect how your provider monitors you.  Oh – and yes, hookah is tobacco so don’t forget to include that in your conversation.

Do you drink alcohol and if so how much/often do you drink?  You might think that it’s not important to mention the tailgate party you attended last week or the Sangria you had the week before – you ate the fruit and that’s healthy, right? – but be honest with your provider and let them determine if it’s important or not.  Too much alcohol consumption has been linked to increased risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and breast cancer and only your provider will be able to determine if you fall within these categories.

What medications/supplements are you currently taking?  Your provider needs to know all prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking and that includes all supplements, vitamins, and pain relievers.  Some supplements cause interactions with medications and the only way for your provider to identify these possible interactions is if you tell them what you are taking.

What symptoms are you experiencing?  Tell your provider your symptoms, even if it’s just that you’ve been feeling tired or sad.  If what you’ve been experiencing is not normal for you, let your provider know.  The information you give your provider all contributes to their ability to properly diagnose and treat you.

If you don’t tell your provider everything, they can’t help you. So fess up – your health depends on it. 

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, MD

I saw a mouse in my apartment!!

Mouse Hunter

As fall and winter approach, critters will be looking for food and warmth, and they may end up in our homes.  This might not be so bad, if it was a peaceful coexistence, but mice and rats like to chew holes in your cereal boxes, leave their feces on the floor, and raise their little furry families under your bed. 

So maybe you are an animal lover, and willing to clean up after your new companions.  The other drawback of these uninvited guests is the range of infectious diseases they can carry:

  • Hantavirus
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Leptospirosis
  • And others

Hantavirus is an infection you may have heard about this summer, when 9 cases were discovered among campers at Yosemite National Park in California.  3 of those persons died.  Exposure occurs from exposure to  droppings, urine or saliva.  The illness starts with fever and muscle aches, but can develop into a severe pneumonia. 

SO, what to do?  The CDC offers us some timely advice about rodent-proofing our living environments.

Of course, if you do not own the place you are living, you need to consult with the owners about the ways to keep rodents out. 

Ok, once you are rodent-proof, it is time to clean up their mess.  Cleaning up droppings, urine, and dead rodents requires some special handling:

  • Ventilate the area for at least 30 minutes before you start
  • Use a disinfectant or bleach solution
  • Spray the area involved thoroughly
  • Wipe up with paper towels
  • Wear disposable gloves
  • Place waste in sealed plastic bags and remove to an outdoors garbage can or dumpster

More tips are available at Cleaning Up After Rodents (CDC Website) 

Good Health!

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)

For Your Safety – How to stay safe sharing the road

Jogging with tunes

In collaboration with the efforts being made by the Office of Student Life and the university as a whole, BuckMD wants to remind you about avoiding injuries on the streets and walkways here on campus. 

Did you know these TRAFFIC SAFETY FACTS (2009)

  • 72% of pedestrian fatalities occur in urban settings
  • 76% occur at non-intersections
  • 90% occur in normal weather, compared to rainy, snowy or foggy conditions 

So how do you maximize your safety, when our campus is so big and growing so vibrantly?

Check out:

Student Health Services is here for your bumps and bruises, but we would MUCH rather you stay safe as you travel our campus and avoid get hurt in the first place!!!

Look both ways!

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)

Vaccines are lifesavers….except when they’re not available?

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies vaccine may be one of those things you don’t really think about, until you need it.  There are two manufacturers of rabies vaccines in the US, and either can be used to prevent rabies, either before (pre-exposure) or after (post-exposure) a bite from an infected animal.  Unless you are a veterinarian or have some other type of close contact with animals, you don’t need the pre-exposure vaccines. 

Post-exposure vaccine is given whenever a person gets bitten or exposed to a animal potentially infected with rabies.  This can sometimes be a tough call, because rabies is not very common in Central Ohio, but there still is some risk.  In some cases, post-exposure rabies vaccine is recommended and administered to students here at Student Health Services. 

During this vaccine shortage, we will limiting our use of rabies vaccine to post-exposure situations only.  That means that some other students will be asked to wait a few weeks or more, but we do this for the good of the whole community, and to try to be sure that we have the vaccine when YOU really need it.

In the meantime:

  • if you are in a situation where a possible exposure has occured, ask your doctor to consult with local/state public health departments to ensure appropriate use of vaccine.
  • avoid wildlife contact
  • vaccinate pets/livestock
  • if possible, capture/observe/test exposing animal.

For more information, check out this CDC website – Rabies Vaccine: Current Situation, Posted: September 7, 2012, Updated: September 11, 2012

Be careful out there!

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health)



Unusual medical news – Hibachi Hazards



Public Health looks for patterns that lead to hazards, and hazards that lead to illness or death.  Over a 15 month period starting in March, 2011, 6 people were seen in emergency departments within a single hospital system in Providence, Rhode Island, 3 with severe pain with swallowing, and three with severe abdominal pain. 

What was the common thread linking these cases?  Each of them had short pieces of metal lodged in their GI tract, either in the throat and esophagus, or in the intestines. 

Next, it was determined that all six had outdoor grills, and all of the grills had wire brushes for cleaning the grill racks. 

Foreign object ingestion resulted in approximately 80,000 ED visits in 2010.

If you scrape off your grill, wiping it down before firing it up might save you from emergency surgery!

Good Eating!

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)

Injuries from Ingestion of Wire Bristles from Grill-Cleaning Brushes – Providence, Rhode Island, March 2011-June 2012, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, July 6, 2012 / 61(26);490-492.

Ready for summer? Safe Swimming Tips from the CDC

For us land-locked Ohioans, summer swimming means one thing – heading for the pool, the lake, the water park, right? 

Swimming is a great way to get exercise, be social, and enjoy your summer free time (ok, except for you grad students, who are busy 24/7).

But, how much do you think about the water in which you are leisurely floating?  The CDC wants you to consider some health issues surrounding taking a swim. 

Issue 1 – You have been having diarrhea on and off for the past day.  Is swimming a good idea for you and your fellow swimmers? 

Stay tuned for more healthy swimming tips this summer on BuckMD!

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)


Give Student Health Your Old Drugs!

The Student Health Services Pharmacy will be holding our 2nd annual DEA-approved drug Take-Back Day this Wednesday, May 30th, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

All students, staff, and faculty are invited to bring unused or expired medicines to be disposed of in a safe, legal, and environmentally-friendly way.  This service is entirely free of charge and is completely anonymous.  No questions asked!  We will take any expired, damaged or and unused medications (even if they are a controlled substance like narcotic pain medication or ADD medication), as well as sharps containers (containers that store used needles). 

Please note: Do not remove medication labels before drop-off.  Syringes, needles, and thermometers will not be accepted.

Our goal is to address a vital public safety and public health issue by removing potentially dangerous prescription drugs from your backpacks and medicine cabinets. 

  • Since 2007, more Ohians have died from unintentional drug overdosing than motor vehicle accidents.
  • More than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 
  • Each day, approximately 2,500 teens use prescription drugs for the first time to get high, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America. 
  • Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet. 

These expired medicines can be as bad for our environment as they are for our health.  Measurable quantities of some common medications are showing up in lakes, reservoirs, and municipal water supplies, thought to be due in large part to improper flushing of medications down sinks and toilets.

So make the right choice and join us for our 2nd Annual Medication Disposal Day!  It’s a great way to keep yourself healthy and our campus safe! 

This event is jointly sponsored by Student Health Services (Office of Student Life), Department of Public Safety, and Generation Rx. 

Phil Anderson, RPh
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University