Bird advises on avoiding the “Cullowhee Crud”

Students at Western Carolina University can be seen shuffling around campus with red noses, cold faces and warm winter coats. Many of them are also carrying tissues and cough drops to class. The chilly and wet Western North Carolina weather, along with the season of sickness, has caused an unpleasant situation at WCU that many have dubbed the “Cullowhee Crud.”  

The on-campus Student Health Services center has experienced plenty of the unwelcome “crud” this year.

Pamela Buchanan, the director of health services at WCU, described the infamous sickness as “a little bit of everything,” in reference to what the “crud” actually consists of.

“We’ve definitely seen a lot of the flu since the spring semester started,” Buchanan said. “We see an average of seven students every day that come in to be tested for it.”

 Typical symptoms for these students include fevers, runny noses, headaches, aching and coughing, she explained.

 Besides the flu, Buchanan sees a lot of a seasonal upper respiratory infection.

 Buchanan described it as the most common condition sick students are facing this time of year. With an upper respiratory infection, students may or may not have a little bit of fever, runny nose and headache.

Buchanan warned that if a student is running a fever, it is critical that he or she stays in their room to prevent the spread of the flu or sickness. She explained that it is crucial to isolate oneself and stay indoors for 24 hours after the fever breaks. Body aches are also usually a give-away that someone may have the flu.

Buchanan said, “The faster a sick student comes to see us, the better. Anytime someone doesn’t feel well, we encourage them to come seek our services in the Bird Building to fix it as fast as possible.”

She explained that at the very least, students can have a nurse’s point of view when they come to get checked out. The nurses at Student Health Services can help pick out which medicines may be the most suitable for the various campus sicknesses going around.

 Buchanan understands how intimidating it may be for students to go to Wal-Mart to pick out medicine alone.

Conveniently, students can be given prescription drugs at the health center to relieve the “crud.”

“Why go try to pick medicine out yourself from that huge aisle of medications when our staff can give you a nurse’s point of view on what you need?” laughed Buchanan,

 A college campus is a prime source for germ-spreading. The number one act to prevent illness and the spread of germs is washing one’s hands frequently.

 “It is important to practice throughout the day,” Buchanan said. “Lots of germs spread through classrooms and door handles, and all of the other things we touch through the day. So much sickness could be prevented if everyone washed their hands as frequently as they should.”

Student Health Services would also like to remind the WCU community that they can find a lot of valuable information on common campus illnesses on the Health Services page at

The Health Services page states the mission of the health center is to provide WCU with essential healthcare needs in all aspects. In addition to their medical assistance, Health Services offer an abundance of important knowledge related to a variety of health topics for college students.

By visiting their page, students can find documents with helpful facts about the cold and flu season as well as information on common inconveniences like allergies and upset stomachs.

This is convenient because if a student finds themselves getting sick after the health center operating hours, they have a whole page of references that may be helpful to them, Buchanan described.

Student Health Services is open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are located in the Bird Building and can be contacted through 828-227-7640 or

If a student finds him or herself in need of emergency medical assistance after 5 p.m. or over the weekend, campus Emergency Medical Services can be contacted at 828-227-8911. Buchanan explained that the campus EMS is certified to give medical treatment and analysis, just like the health center.

 “Student Health Services encourages everyone to stay happy and healthy,” said Buchanan.