In a follow-up to the suspected norovirus outbreak at the University of Rochester in western New York, the number of cases have doubled in the past four days from 60 to 120.


However,the good news is the number of new cases per day is starting to decline, and that the broad sanitization efforts are working to reduce exposure to the virus, according to University Health Service (UHS) Director Dr. Ralph Manchester.

Students are asked to keep sanitizing their living spaces and belongings with the wipes that have been distributed. University Facilities and ServPro staff are working throughout the weekend and next week to disinfect areas throughout River Campus and the Eastman School of Music.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes gastroenteritis, an illness that usually involves vomiting and diarrhea. It is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States, and is responsible for approximately 20 million illnesses each year, with 570-800 deaths reported annually. The virus can spread quickly in closed and crowded environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, daycare centers, schools, cruise ships and food service settings like restaurants.

People with norovirus are very contagious and can easily spread the illness from person to person. The virus may be found in both stool and vomit and ill persons can still be contagious up to two weeks or more after recovery. People can become infected in several ways, including: having direct contact with another person who is infected, eating food or drinking liquids contaminated with norovirus, or touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching your mouth.

It is particularly important for ill persons to practice good handwashing and to avoid preparing food for others while they are sick and for at least 48 hours after symptoms are no longer present, as to prevent norovirus from spreading.  No hand sanitizer is effective against norovirus. Food workers should not work while they are sick and for 48 hours after symptoms stop. Persons caring for someone who may have norovirus disease should be particularly careful about handwashing and cleaning contaminated surfaces and materials.

Symptoms usually begin 12 to 48 hours after the person has been exposed to the virus and last for one to three days. The most common symptoms include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Other symptoms may include low-grade fever, headache and body aches. Norovirus symptoms can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults and people with other illnesses.