Ursinus College reopens dining hall after illness sweeps across campus

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Ursinus College says seven more students reported feeling sick as part of an outbreak that has brought the Montgomery County campus to a standstill. (WPVI)

Ursinus College says as of Friday morning a total of 192 students have contacted the student health center since a gastrointestinal illness outbreak started a couple days ago.

Seven new students reported symptoms of the stomach infection overnight.

The school reopened its cafeteria on Thursday night after officials say the Montgomery County Health Department gave Wismer Dining Hall the all-clear.

Meantime, classes have been canceled until Monday, so students are heading home as cleaning continues across the campus.

Junior Katelyn Koser says, "Basically, everyone's leaving. Half my suite is already gone."

Students started falling ill on Tuesday evening and began showing up for care at the student health center and local medical facilities.

By Wednesday, those who were experiencing the symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain, had soared well beyond 100.

At that point the college had voluntarily shut down dining halls and began cleaning and sanitizing the buildings.

Missy Bryant is the Assistant Dean of Students. She tells us, "Our fitness center just reopened for student use after being sanitized, and now we are continuing all of the efforts in the residence halls, particularly high-traffic areas and common rooms, lounges, that kind of thing."

With dining facilities closed, students arrived Thursday morning at the athletic center for a grab-and-go breakfast courtesy of Wawa and Wegman's.

Senior Charles Perry says, "Once this epidemic started, we got emails left, right and center. They've been doing a stand up job trying to at least keep everything under control."

The nearby Collegeville Italian Bakery provided dinner Wednesday night, plus hundreds of hoagies for lunch Thursday.

Steve Carcarey from the Collegeville Italian Bakery tells us, "We're making possibly 600 hoagies multiple of turkey, Italian, roast beef, veggies - so they're really taking care of the students in this situation."

The Montgomery County Health Department is leading the investigation into the source of the outbreak. It might be a week before the cause is known.
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