Suspected Norovirus Sickens 28 University Of Minnesota Students


Suspected norovirus has sickened 28 students at the University of Minnesota, the school reported to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on April 6. The public health office is now investigating on the cases, which all occurred among residents of the Frontier Hall dorm.

David Golden from the Boynton Health Service of the university has also confirmed the news.

Health officials said that they may be facing what is probably the second-worst beginning ever to the peak of the stomach bug.

"It's definitely one of the worst seasons we've seen in quite a while," says Doug Schultz, an MDH spokesperson.

Although the health agency is still in the process of investigations, officials suspect that the illness was caused by a strain of norovirus.

School authorities have already disinfected the dorm, including three other dorms, jointly called the SuperBlock. Personnel have also performed disinfection measures in two dining centers near the area.

Advice To Students

Officials have advised students to wash their hands frequently and to prevent sharing food or drinks and utensils. They are also advised to keep distance from ill people. Those who have already experienced signs and symptoms of the suspected virus should report to Boynton and stay inside the house for three days.

Another university spokesman named Steve Henneberry says the school has already informed all students of the incident for guidance and awareness.

What Is Norovirus?

Norovirus is an infection that causes gastroenteritis or inflammation of the lining of the stomach, small and large intestines. This infection is said to be the leading cause of foodborne illnesses in Minnesota.

The most typical clinical manifestations of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Patients with the disease may also experience headache, chills, fever and muscle pains.

The symptoms usually last for 24 to 48 hours, but during that short amount of time, patients may suffer from extreme illness and spontaneous, strong vomiting multiple times a day.

The virus can be transmitted via ingestion of stool or vomit of infected individuals. The virus can lurk in food and fluids that got contaminated by the virus, especially if food handlers do not wash their hands appropriately.

The virus may also be found on surfaces. Having direct contact to these surfaces and putting or using dirty hands when eating may cause one to contract the disease. It is therefore vital for people, especially in stricken areas, to wash their hands as often as possible.

In February, 100 University of Michigan students also got infected with norovirus, with the earliest cases also noted in dorms.

Photo: Tony Webster | Flickr

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