The Rhode Island Department of Health has confirmed that at least two samples collected from Brown University students in Providence, R.I. were positive for norovirus, according to a Go Local Prov report March 20.
In a letter earlier Wednesday from Director Brown University Health Services, Dr. Edward Wheeler, the university was reporting an increase in students experiencing symptoms consistent with the gastrointestinal virus like nausea and vomiting.
Go Local Prov reports:
Since March 17, 18 students have gone to the emergency room, one was admitted, and 49 students have contacted Health Service for medical advise or have been seen at Heath Service for gastrointestinal symptoms.
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the “stomach flu,” or gastroenteritis in people.
The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.
Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.
The highly contagious norovirus is the second leading infectious cause of gastroenteritis-associated deaths accounting for 800 annually. Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.
A report released yesterday by the New England Journal of Medicine says that norovirus leads to more than 1 million medical visits costing $273 million each year in the U.S.
Brown Facilities Management Custodial Division are performing additional cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces to further prevent the spread of this viral illness.
Brown University Health Services advises students and staff to contact them if they have the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea for more than a few days, signs of dehydration and/or unable to urinate during an eight hour period.
In the letter to students, school health officials recommend the following to prevent getting this unpleasant infection:
- Practice proper hand hygiene: Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and always before eating or preparing food. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may be somewhat helpful in addition to hand washing, but they are not a substitute for washing thoroughly with soap and water.
- Do not prepare food while infected: People who are infected with the virus should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for 3 days after they recover from their illness.
- Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces: After an episode of illness, such as vomiting or diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label or a solution made by adding 5–25 tablespoons of household bleach to 1 gallon of water.
- Wash laundry thoroughly: Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or fecal matter. Handle soiled items carefully—without agitating them—to avoid spreading virus. They should be laundered with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dried.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after you use the bathroom and before you eat and avoid direct (it is not spread through the air) contact with a sick person
- It is best not to share eating utensils or towels and face clothes with others please stay in your room while ill and wash your hands after you use the bathroom
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