Norovirus Shuts Down Massachusetts' Babson CollegeMar 30, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Babson College in Wellesley, near Boston, Massachusetts, is closing until at least Wednesday following what is believed to be a norovirus outbreak there. NBC News reported that about 100 students and staff fell ill with severe nausea and vomiting and the Examiner reported that some students have been hospitalized with dehydration.
Tom Lyons, a spokesman for the State Department of Health in Massachusetts, described the norovirus as being "miserable," but not life-threatening, explaining that most people recover after a few days, reported NBC News. Babson College has about 3,400 under-graduate and graduate students, all are permitted to remain in their dorms; however, classes and athletic events have been canceled while campus buildings are cleaned and sanitized, said NBC News. Dorm students have been supplied with disinfectants, said the Examiner, so that they can sanitize their rooms and lavatories.
Norovirus is often spread by food handling; however, said NBC, Lyons said health inspectors in Wellesley do not believe food is involved in this case.
Boston News 7 said that the Health Department and Babson college administrators have asked students to remain on campus so that the virus does not spread into the community and noted that the Department of Public Health issued a health advisory last month about the increase in gastrointestinal illnesses across Massachusetts. “No one is going to be allowed in. Also, they want the students who are there to stay there, so they can contain the process of transmission,” said Marcia Testa-Simonson, of the Wellesley Board of Health, quoted EFluxMedia. NBC News reported that students were urged to avoid group activities to minimize the outbreak’s reach.
The Examiner reported that, based on a separate report, norovirus might have entered Boston, quoting Dr. Alfred DeMaria, state epidemiologist, this “can really spread like wildfire. [It's] really impossible to find the source.”
The norovirus can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, fever, headaches, chills, muscle ache, tiredness, and diarrhea; in general, children experience more vomiting than adults. The norovirus strikes quickly, but generally only lasts for one or two days, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
Sometimes people also develop 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. There is no cure for the norovirus and patients sometimes need to be given fluids intravenously to combat the dehydration caused by frequent vomiting and diarrhea.
Norovirus is not one, but actually a group of viruses that are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. Norovirus spreads easily and quickly with people becoming infected when eating food or drinking liquids contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; or having direct contact with another person infected and showing symptoms, for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill, warns the CDC.