Watkins Health Services (copy)

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, students with the 'KU cough' are seeking treatment at Watkins Health Center.

COVID-19 cases are low at the University of Kansas, Watkins Health Center Physician Graig Nickel said. However, the “KU Cough,” a bad cough which people have a tough time distinguishing from COVID-19, has become more prominent in recent months.

The “KU Cough” has been around countless times before the pandemic, Nickel said.

“I have heard students refer to the 'KU cough,' or some variation of that term, every year,” Nickel said. 

This year, students have been going into Watkins to determine if they have COVID-19 or the KU cough, Nickel said.

“We have had a relatively large number of students come to Watkins with a cough thus far this Fall,” Nickel said. “However, due in part to the large number of students who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and the use of masks when recommended, the number of COVID-19 cases has been very low.” 

Many students have not been exposed to a large amount of people due to COVID-19 and classes being online, said Sophia Masi, a senior from St. Louis studying human biology.

“My roommates and I all got sick and had bad coughs right when school started this year,” Masi said. “I live in a house with 10 girls, so basically when one of us gets sick, we all get sick.”

Some students do not want to cough in class even if they know they do not have the coronavirus, said Maya Feldman, a freshman from Deerfield, Illinois studying social welfare. 

“It’s an awkward situation because I know people don’t want to be coughing in class and having their classmates think they might have COVID," Feldman said. 

Since a cough is a symptom of COVID-19, it can be hard to diagnose what illness you have, Nickel said. 

“If students develop a cough, we encourage them to come to Watkins Health Center to be evaluated,'' Nickel said. “We can help to determine if it is something that might require a treatment.” 

Even if you think you do not have COVID-19, it is still highly encouraged to get tested at Watkins for your own personal safety and others. 

“I had a cough for almost 2 weeks straight,” said Jacob Sinton, a senior from Deerfield, Illinois studying strategic communications. “I didn’t think I had COVID-19 because I didn’t have any other symptoms, but I still went and got tested at Watkins just to make sure that I was negative.” 

In order to recover and keep yourself healthy, physicians at Watkins suggest for students to rest, hydrate, properly wash their hands, wear a mask and use prescription medications under the direction of a healthcare provider.

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