An outbreak of norovirus that began last Friday has sickened dozens at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, according to school officials.
According to college President Alison Byerly, they received confirmation from the Pennsylvania Department of Health that the cause of the outbreak is norovirus.
She also writes in a message to students and parents:
Recognizing both the strain these illnesses have placed on our community, and the importance of minimizing student contact with visitors to the campus, the College is cancelling all classes, co-curricular, and extracurricular events, including intercollegiate athletics and club sports, effective immediately. This includes events scheduled for this evening. These cancellations will remain in effect throughout the weekend. The College will resume its normal operations on Monday.
These cancellations, and the resulting reduction in the number of people on campus, will benefit the entire campus community by facilitating ongoing cleaning and sanitizing of the campus through the weekend. These cleaning efforts will be augmented by extra personnel during the next four days.
Norovirus outbreaks have been reported at a number of colleges and universities recently to include UC Berkeley, Michigan and Pennsylvania school, Ursinus College.
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 in the US, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.