UNIVERSITY PARK— Penn State's annual dance marathon that raises money for treatments and research for cancer, better known as THON is set to begin this weekend. But now university officials are sending out a warning ahead of the event in light of flu season.
THON has students dancing for 46 hours inside of the Bryce Jordan Center on campus but because it’s at an indoor facility and germs can spread fast, health officials are asking anyone who is sick, or with symptoms of the flu to stay away.
'We are in prime flu season, right now we are seeing an increase in cases on campus at this point,” Infectious Disease Managersaid Shelley Haffner, infectious disease manager & Campus Health Liaison Shelley Haffner campus health liaison said. “So yes, there is a concern.”
The university has seen several flu cases this semester -- and now officials are asking students who are sick to avoid the event.
"There is a concern every time you have large group of people together because you don't know what could be going on, what could be happening."
Health officials say germs can spread quickly at an event like thonTHON.
Ahead of the event -- the university reminding students to wash their hands often -- and cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing.
In a full statement, the Universityuniversity’s spokesperson said, “itIt certainly is worth emphasizing the need for lots of hand washing and use of general hygiene protocols, such as covering your mouth when you cough or sneezing into your elbow.”
6 News spoke with media relations captain Jackson Brown -- who says every year they try to caution students.
Many may feel the pressure to attend -- but if theirthey're sick it's best to stay home.
"We have an outbreak every year and this year in particular we have three different sub types of flu on campus," Haffner said.
Although the flu vaccine is not required by the university, it's highly recommended.
"Get vaccinated,” Haffner said. “Make sure all of your vaccines are up to date but make sure you've got that flu vaccine. We do try to get that message out -- it's just a matter of people reading it or listening to it."
According to official’s flu season typically doesn't end until mid-Spring-spring, so people should continue to protect themselves.
THON is set to start on Friday, FebruaryFeb. 15 at 6 p.m.