Georgetown University dining hall closed; dozens of students barfing and crapping show up at Emergency last night

Amy and I went for lunch today in the student union. Nothing fancy, the salad fixin’s were reasonably priced, and the food selection was a lot better than when I was a student – way back in the old days, like on the Flintstones, with humans and dinosaurs playing together.

Any food service operation is vulnerable to foodborne illness, but the university ones have been popping up regularly of late – Guelph, Michigan State, and now, Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

Georgetown University closed its dining hall today after dozens of students went to the emergency room last night with symptoms of severe vomiting and diarrhea.

A call from an emergency room doctor at Georgetown University Hospital at about 12:30 a.m. today alerted campus officials that many students were being treated for symptoms that could indicate a foodborne illness, said university spokeswoman Julie Bataille.

She said officials are not sure yet of the number of students, but it could be dozens. About 5,000 students participate in the campus meal plan and eat at the Leo J. O’Donovan Dining Hall, which most students call Leo’s. The dining hall serves about 3,000 meals daily.

In an e-mail to the campus community today, Todd A. Olson, vice president for student affairs, announced that as a precaution the university had decided to close the dining hall and that breakfast would be served in a lounge on campus and that lunch and dinner would be served at the student center.

New food was delivered this morning, Bataille said, and health officials are now on campus taking samples and investigating the situation.