The number of East Stroudsburg University students sickened in the current gastrointestinal infection outbreak has topped 150; however, the University says there is a declining number of students who are presenting with symptoms.
Some of the students live on campus and some are commuter students. Additionally, ESU personnel have been reporting similar illness/symptoms within the last week.
As rumors swirl of the outbreak being foodborne, university officials say East Stroudsburg Borough’s Health Inspector, who works in cooperation with the PA Health Department, spent hours on site in ESU’s dining hall yesterday conducting an assessment of the facility which was found to be in compliance.
At least one expert says it sounds like norovirus. Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, St. Luke’s University Health Network’s chief of infectious diseases, told The Morning Call the likely culprit is norovirus. “It’s the most common [gastrointestinal] illness you would see this time of year,” he said.
The investigation is ongoing.
Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.
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 hasdiarrhea.
Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.
ESU has put the following precautions in place: Common areas continue to be sanitized; Hand sanitizer is in place across campus in common areas and all members of the campus community are urged to use it often; Packs of Clorox wipes have been made available to students in residence halls to assist them in keeping room and personal areas clean and disinfected. Clorox wipes have also been made available to campus offices that are high-traffic areas and Wellness bags continue to be available in the P.O.D. at Dansbury Commons to all students and bags are also being delivered to Residence Halls and University Ridge regularly. These bags contain Gatorade, Water, Chicken Broth and Saltines.