Georgia state and local health officials report that norovirus has been identified as the etiology of the rash of gastrointestinal illnesses in recent weeks on the campus of Georgia Tech.
Norovirus was confirmed in samples by both the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness (FCDH) and Emory University on Wednesday.
Stamps Health Services say it is unknown how this easily spread virus came to the Georgia Tech campus. It began to spread after students returned to campus from fall break. No common food source, activity, or dining or residence location has been identified as the origin.
Between October 11th and October 24th, Stamps Health Services has seen 136 patients with symptoms of the illness. Additionally, as of October 20th, 226 people completed the FCDH’s survey regarding the illness with 194 people reporting having had symptoms of a norovirus infection. While Stamps Health Services has begun to see a decline in the number of students coming in for treatment, norovirus can continue to circulate on college campuses for weeks to months if proper steps are not taken to prevent spread.
Dining Services and Housing, in addition to other campus department such as Campus Recreation, the Student Center, West Village, and Parking and Transportation, continue to use enhanced cleaning procedures to help prevent additional spread of norovirus on campus.
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 has diarrhea.
Student health is asking all Georgia Tech community members to follow these simple steps to help prevent spread of this illness and other easily-spread infections:
- Stay home if you are sick. Stay home until you are symptom-free for at least 48 hours. Symptoms typically last 12 to 36 hours.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, whether you are sick or not. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water. Hand sanitizers do not work well against norovirus.
- Do not share food, drinks, eating utensils, or drink containers.
- Disinfect common surfaces with a bleach-based cleaning solution. Norovirus can live on hard surfaces, objects, and clothes and cause illness for days to weeks. Wash dirty laundry on longest wash cycle and machine dry.
- If you are sick, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated – both water and sports drinks can help, avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Properly wash and prepare food. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, throw out any food that might be contaminated with norovirus through being prepared or eaten by someone who is sick, if you are sick do not prepare food for others until you have been symptom free for a week.
- Virginia: Salmonella detected in Crab Shack Clam Chowder, 180 sickened to date in outbreak
- Candida auris: Rutgers researchers awarded $300K to study fungal pathogen
- Parasites 101: Whipworm
- Gnathostomiasis identified as cause of Australian teen’s illness years after infection
- Discovery of ‘molecular pencil sharpener’ could lead to new antibacterial agents and drugs to combat toxins
- Mumps outbreak: Syracuse University to offer MMR booster as case count climbs
- Louisiana salmonella outbreak update: Additional cases identified
- Madagascar reports an additional 68 plague cases
- Uganda, Marburg virus, game hunters and burial rituals