Jersey schools battling norovirus; students not always the best at handwashing

Universities have a tough time with norovirus. Close quarters, not-the-best-personal-hygiene and cafeterias are all factors in spreading the pathogen around. Brae Surgeoner, Doug and I had a paper published in the September 2009 Journal of Environmental Health about some research we conducted in the Winter of 2006. The study came about because a whole bunch of kids in the University of Guelph’s residence system started puking from an apparent norovirus outbreak. There were lots of handwashing signs up and we wanted to know whether they changed hygiene behavior (especially if kids were using the tools available when entering the cafeteria). Turns out that the kids weren’t doing as good of a job at hand hygiene as they reported to us. According to our study, Observed compliance with prescribed hand hygiene recommendations occurred 17.4% of the time. Despite knowledge of hand hygiene protocols and low compliance, 83.0% of students indicated that they practiced correct hand hygiene during the outbreak.

According to CNN Rider University in New Jersey is dealing with a noro outbreak that has sent students to hospital, which might be connected to repeat offenders Princeton.

About 40 students at a university in New Jersey have been taken to hospitals for treatment after an outbreak of what authorities believe is the norovirus. The Rider University students, at the school’s campus in Lawrenceville, were brought to hospitals late Wednesday night, the school said Thursday. The suspected outbreak comes a week after an outbreak began at nearby Princeton University, which is still under way, officials said.

"We are coordinating treatment information with that university. We have also informed neighboring institutions," Rider said on its website.
Some of those taken to hospitals have been discharged and returned to campus.

Below in a food safety infosheet detailing another Princeton-related outbreak from 2008.


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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.