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Wisconsin Norovirus Spreading

Nov 17, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Huliq News is reporting that the University of Wisconsin Madison has issued information and tips to its students in the wake of the ongoing norovirus outbreak there.  University Health Services (UHS) feels that the outbreak of gastroentiritis plaguing the college is likely from a strain of norovirus, says Huliq.

The Badger Herald is also reporting that while the current count of those who have fallen ill is at 63 cases within Sellery Hall—a dormitory building housing over 1,000 people—the norovirus has now spread to some of the fraternity houses and off-campus apartments.  “There may be some scattered cases … in off-campus housing and a couple of other Lakeshore dorms,” said University Health Services spokesperson Mary Makarushka to The Badger, adding, “But there are no cases that are as clearly linked as the ones in Sellery.”

The norovirus can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, fever, headaches, chills, muscle ache, tiredness, and diarrhea.  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.  Norovirus is not one, but actually a group of viruses, that spreads easily and swiftly through direct contact with an infected person or through contaminated food, drink, or objects.

University Health Services epidemiologist Craig Roberts created and implemented an online survey in response to the growing outbreak after another 60 students from the Delta Gamma Sorority and over 10 members from the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity reported “symptoms similar to norovirus,” said the Badger Herald.  The survey has been sent to all “Greek” or fraternity and sorority members and all such members have been asked to complete the survey, said the Badger Herald which noted that Roberts will review and compile the confidential data.  “He will be gathering that data, and it will give us more information on how widespread this outbreak was and how many of these cases fit the description of norovirus,” Makarushka was quoted as saying to the Badger Herald.

Norovirus “can be highly contagious in confined areas” noted the Badger Herald, adding that the disease is generally passed from some sort of feces-to-mouth contact.  Such contact can occur with improper or absent hand-washing practices or when touching something touched by a contaminated person.  “It’s just all about sanitation, the hand-washing, the cleanliness,” said Sarah Van Orman, executive director of UHS to the Badger Herald. “That’s really the only way to stop it, and it’s really important people just keep that in mind,” she added, according to the piece.

Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, the University of Arizona, and Hope College in Holland, Michigan are among the other colleges reporting norovirus outbreaks, the Badger Herald reported.

Huliq News passed on some tips from UHS on how to minimize the chances of contracting norovirus, such as washing “hands thoroughly with soap and water” several times daily and specifically after using the bathroom and prior to preparing food.

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