Norovirus outbreak hits Corcordia College; alcohol-based sanitizers and wipes won’t do to much

According to, a likely outbreak of norovirus has made at least 30 students of Corcodia College ill.

It was first reported on the 800-student campus Friday. Within a couple of days, 30 students contracted the virus and four wound up in Lawrence Hospital Center in Bronxville.

Katherine Chiciaza, 18, was in the school library Saturday morning when she became nauseous.
“I had to come back to the dorm and throw up in the bathroom,” she said. “I felt like that the whole day.”
The college sent out an email to students and staff, urging them to take precautions to avoid the virus, such as cleaning hands, and to stay hydrated if they get it.

The school also dispatched cleaning crews, twice a day, to sanitize all common areas, from the dining halls to dorms and classrooms.

Vittoria Rubino, 21, of the Bronx was armed with hand sanitizer and alcohol pads Tuesday as she arrived for class.
“I work in the writing center, so I’ve sterilized the keyboard because everyone uses them,” Rubino said. “I know I’m getting a little crazy.”

While hand sanitizer has its uses, reducing norovirus spread isn’t one of them. Pretty much all commercially available hand sanitizers suck when it comes to reducing norovirus viability. Same with the alcohol-containing wipes. All Vittoria is probably doing is spreading virus particles around.

I haven’t found any reports of University facilities folks suggesting that students substitute hand sanitizer for hand washing.

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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.