Today, Dr. Thomas I. Nary, the Director of University Health Services at Boston College (BC) reported that laboratory tests from three patients treated early last week revealed the presence of norovirus.
The confirmation comes after Nary said Friday several dozen students reported to University Health Services last week with symptoms related to gastrointestinal illness. He noted at the time there were no confirmed norovirus cases.
An aggressive cleaning by BC Housekeeping and Dining Services have limited the spread of the illness on campus. Staff disinfected common touch-points–such as switch panels, faucets, doorknobs, and handrails–throughout campus, and restrooms in all residence halls were treated with disinfectant. Salad bars were closed and self-service food items were removed from dining halls, measures consistent with the recommendations of the Department of Public Health. As a result, there has been a steady reduction of student visits to University Health Services since the beginning of last week.
Dr Nary reminds the BC community to take the following precautions to prevent the spread of illness:
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, several times a day.
- Frequently clean touch surfaces, including cell phones, laptops, and keyboards.
- Avoid sharing food utensils, containers, and other personal items.
- Buddy packs are available in dining halls for friends and roommates who may be feeling ill.
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.
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