A suspected norovirus outbreak has been reported by MIT Medical clinicians yesterday with health providers reporting seeing 18 patients with diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting since the beginning of the week.
Associate Medical Director Howard Heller says the “probable norovirus” cases do not appear to be linked to any particular dorm or dining hall. “Although four patients are from Next House,” Heller notes, “another seven are from different dormitories, and the rest live off campus.”
Norovirus is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.
Anyone can be infected with norovirus and get sick. Also, you can have norovirus illness many times in your life. Norovirus illness can be serious, especially for young children and older adults.
Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States. Each year, it causes 19-21 million illnesses and contributes to 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths.
The best way to help prevent norovirus is to practice proper hand washing and general cleanliness as Heller states: “Our response must be to pay extra attention to practicing good hygiene. Frequent and consistent hand-washing is the best way to prevent the spread of this type of virus.” And, he adds, research has shown that soap and water is more effective against norovirus than alcohol-based hand sanitizers.