The outbreak of gastrointestinal illness at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus has been confirmed to have been caused by norovirus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
More than 100 students have sought treatment for vomiting and diarrhea during the course of the week, first being seen among students living in University Housing at West Quad and South Quad.
“We believe that this number does not reflect the actual extent of the illness, as students are generally following our advice to self-isolate in their rooms,” says Dr. Robert Winfield, the university’s chief health officer.
“As we head into the weekend and the number of social activities increase on campus, it is especially important for individuals to practice good hand hygiene and to avoid sharing food and drinks. For example, sing ‘The Victors’ (takes 20 seconds) while washing your hands with soap and water,” says Winfield.
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.
Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually in the US, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.