Norovirus Spreads Across University Of Michigan Campus

The norovirus has struck on the campus of the University of Michigan, leaving more than 100 students ill after contact. The Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed that the gastrointestinal illness reported by many students last week with symptoms that included nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and fever does indeed correlate with the above diagnosis.

NBC 5 Chicago reports that the illness is highly contagious and that its origin on the campus has not yet been determined.

One student had to be hospitalized for dehydration, according to ABC News, in addition to the 100 to 150 students who were affected.

University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen stated that although the source of the outbreak was unknown, it is clear that it began in the school’s West Quad and South Quad university housing. Officials for the school say that an intensive cleaning operation with protocols designed to kill the virus have been implemented in the school’s dining facilities and residence halls.

It is also reported that the aftermath of the virus may possibly delay the start of the 2016 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. The school released an official statement in this regard.

“The University of Michigan campus has been notified of an illness linked to several community members, including members of the Michigan women’s swimming and diving program. With the Big Ten Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships held in Ann Arbor this week, the Big Ten Conference, University of Michigan athletic department and University of Michigan Health System are monitoring the situation throughout the day to assure Canham Natatorium is a safe environment for all competitors and spectators.”

Last week the same disease showed up at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. Two hundred students were affected in that outbreak.

Medical professionals have advised that everyone in the area be diligent about washing their hands with soap and water. They also suggested that students avoid sharing drinks with one another. Avoidance with others showing active symptoms of the norovirus was also encouraged, as well as cleaning and disinfecting surfaces where food may have contact.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the norovirus can be contracted in a variety of manners, including an infected person, contaminated food or water, and contaminated surfaces. Its contamination is usually initiated by fecal matter coming into contact with food or water, and it can sometimes be passed through the air by vomited stomach contents.

Although norovirus has uncomfortable symptoms, it is rarely dangerous, and most people recover from its effects in two or three days. The most virulent outbreaks usually occur within closed environments, such as hospitals, schools, and prisons. Once an outbreak occurs it usually spreads very quickly.

The norovirus’s name is derived from Norwalk virus. Approximately 90 percent of nonbacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks around the world are attributed to this particular species. Roughly 50 percent of foodborne incidents of gastroenteritis in the United States are attributed to it. The foods most frequently associated with causing it are shellfish and salad ingredients. The shellfish identified have not usually been cooked at a high enough level of heat to kill the virus. Salad ingredients have been found to frequently been infected by those who have already been infected.

The most common forms of treatment are to increase liquids so as to prevent dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. Antiemetics and antidiarrheals are also usually advised along with plenty of rest.

Roughly 19 to 21 million cases of the norovirus are reported in the United States each year. Out of that number some 570 to 800 related deaths occur.

According to Reuters, this is the same virus that impacted a Kansas City dinner theater, a Kansas City Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, and Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants all over the United States during the last several months.

[Image via Shutterstock]