Another Reason to Stay Sober From Addiction: Beer Pong and the Swine Flu (H1N1 Virus)

Another Reason to Stay Sober From Addiction:  Beer Pong and the Swine Flu (H1N1 Virus)

So, what do most college sophomores and juniors do on Saturday nights? Study; goes shopping, dinner, or a movie? Sure, any of those options are possible on any college campus. A really popular option not to be forgotten is a good game of beer pong.

The great thing about this game is you can easily set up the game in a dorm room, frat house or at your local bar. It is a game one can take almost anywhere! Necessary components include a ping pong ball, plastic cups, a table to set the cups on (of course when one is short on space, the floor works) and of course Beer! Beer pong is an American college classic. For those of you who are not familiar with how this game works, please read the description below.

“Beer Pong (also known as Beirut) is a drinking game in which players throw a Ping-Pong ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in a cup of beer on the other end. The game typically consists of two two-player teams and multiple cups set up on each side set up in triangle formation. There are no official rules, so rules may vary widely, though usually there are six or ten plastic cups arranged in a triangle on each side.

The goal of the game is to eliminate the other teams' cups before one's own cups are eliminated. When a ball lands in a cup, which is generally 1/4 to 1/3 full that cup is eliminated and the defending team must consume all of the beer inside that cup.

The losing team must consume all the beer remaining in the winning team's cups. The order of play varies. Players on one team shoot then players on the other team shoot. Players on opposite teams can alternate back and forth.”

Beer Pong and The Swine Flu?

OK, now that we’re all on the same page, I’d like to bring up President Obama's recent declaration of the H1N1 virus as a state of emergency. A state of emergency is defined as: ‘the suspension or invocation of certain governmental functions to allow the expeditious handling of an emergency’. This means certain rules and regulations are dropped so that people can get help faster. This state of emergency also applies to; you guessed it, college students. What is the connection between the swine flu and beer pong? Easy, the answer is transmission patterns.

The swine flu, otherwise known as H1N1 is just another strand of the influenza virus of which different strands arise every year. Transmission of this virus occurs between humans in the ways most of us are familiar with. If one is around people who are coughing or sneezing, one happens to touch the individuals hand, desk, book, pen or any other item that may have become contaminated, there is a good chance that when one touches his or her face or mouth the virus will be passed on.

A great way of spreading the virus is by sharing cups with someone who has the virus and doesn’t know it. College coeds do this all the time – especially when they’re a bit tipsy from a great game of beer pong! If an individual is contaminated with the swine flu, than not only would they lose the game, they may end up in the student health center with a list of unpleasant symptoms.

Officials in upstate New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have identified several cases of swine flu that have been linked to playing games like beer pong. The school has reported twenty one cases of swine flu. Out of this number, seven students were placed in isolation rooms in the school’s medical facility. The school, like many other facilities, plans to vaccinate their students, employees and patients again the swine flu. Having said that, there are many different ways one can eliminate the possibility of becoming infected with said virus.

The swine flu, unlike the usual seasonal flu, has been found to be more prevalent in the younger population. Specifically individuals who are in the 21-49 years of age range of which college students fall. College students are at an increased risk for swine flu for a variety of reasons. First, if one is in college and studying like he or she should be, there is a good chance that due to stress and lack of sleep, the individuals immune functioning is down. This leads to a higher probability of infection. Secondly, beer pong is a great example of what many college coeds engage in. Too much contact can lead to increased possibility and probability of infection. Finally there is drinking. Let’s talk about this a bit further.

Alcohol, especially when drank excessively, can cause deterioration of one's immune system. Being that college students are at high risk of drinking a little more than they should, again, they are at particular risk for swine flu. Looking at the statistics might make this a little clearer. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta:

‘States reported a total of 43,771 confirmed and probable cases of novel influenza A (H1N1) infection from April 15, 2009 to July 24, 2009. Of these cases reported, 5,011 people were hospitalized and 302 people died. On July 24, 2009, confirmed and probable case counts were discontinued.’

Furthermore, more than a million people have become ill with the swine flu between April and June of 2009 in the United States. The take away message here is clear- to all our college kids, play a nice game of pool this weekend. Leave behind the beer pong for a while.

Rachel Hayon, BSN, MPH, RN

Works Cited
Meyers, Jennifer. Beer pong becomes latest casualty of H1N1 swine flu. The Associated Press October 13th, 2009. Accessed 29 October 2009.
Reilly, Nick. Swine Flu Emergency: What Obama's Declaration Means. Newsweek online. Accessed 29 October 2009.
Shott, Chris (October 7, 2005) "The Pong Arm of the Law". The Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
Haire, Meghan. "Beer Pong's Big Splash", Time, August 7, 2008
Key Facts about Swine Influenza (Swine Flu) Accessed 29 October 2009.
2009 H1N1 Early Outbreak and Disease Characteristics October 27, 2009 Accessed 30 October 2009

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