NC State University hosts a norovirus…outbreak

The following message popped into my email inbox earlier today:

Since Tuesday, Dec. 5, several students have reported experiencing gastrointestinal illness. Late yesterday, the Wake County Human Services Department confirmed the cause as norovirus.

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea. More information about norovirus, and tips to prevent it from spreading, are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At present, approximately 60 students have exhibited norovirus-like symptoms. Most of the affected students live in Alexander Hall, however, additional cases of ill students have been received from a handful of other on- and off-campus housing locations.

With norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses, the most effective way to stop the spread is to practice good handwashing and personal hygiene.

If you are exhibiting symptoms and feel ill, you should thoroughly wash your hands after any bathroom visit. If you are feeling ill, you should not prepare food for or serve food to others. It is also important to get adequate rest and good oral hydration, both when ill and when trying not to become ill.

The university is taking every precaution to contain the spread of the illness, and to assist ill students, including the following actions:

• Student Health is actively working with University Housing to contact all identified sick students who live on campus to check on their health and needs.
• Wellness kits containing liquids and easy-to-digest foods have been provided to affected students.
• Students exhibiting gastrointestinal issues have been instructed to remain in their residences throughout their illness in an effort to not spread the virus to others.
• University Housekeeping staff have increased cleaning operations in affected areas as a precaution, including cleaning restrooms, hand railings, door knobs, etc., and will continue to do so daily until the illness passes.
• University Housekeeping will provide approved cleaning supplies to affected students for their university-owned personal living spaces.
• Faculty of the students who are ill have been notified.

Any students who are presenting symptoms should remain in their rooms, and on-campus students should contact their RA. Students experiencing persistent, severe vomiting or diarrhea should go to the Student Health Center, personal health care provider, or emergency healthcare facility. Students who are not sick should go about their normal routines.

If students, faculty or staff have questions, please contact the Wolfpack Response Line at 919.512.3272.

Here are some infosheets for just this occasion.

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This entry was posted in Food Safety Culture, Food Safety Policy, Norovirus and tagged by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate 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.