Officials: Norovirus caused illnesses at Ursinus College

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Montgomery County officials said Monday that Norovirus is to blame for a stomach illness in more than 200 students. (WPVI)

Montgomery County officials said Monday that a Norovirus is to blame for a stomach illness in more than 200 students.

The Health Department said in a statement that it received confirmation from Phoenixville Hospital that results of tests on two students from Ursinus College confirmed the presence of Norovirus.

Health officials say:

Norovirus infection causes gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). This leads to diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Norovirus illness is often called by other names, such as food poisoning and stomach flu. Noroviruses can cause food poisoning, as can other germs and chemicals. Norovirus illness is not related to the flu (influenza). Though they share some of the same symptoms, the flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.

Classes resumed at Ursinus College earlier Monday.

Over the weekend 10 more cases were reported, bringing the number of students affected with the stomach illness to 214.

But officials at Ursinus say they are confident students can return to class.

"We wouldn't be resuming classes today if we didn't have full confidence that our community is prepared," said Assistant Dean of Students Missy Bryant. "Our facilities are clean, sanitized, and ready to go."

When students starting showing symptoms of a stomach illness last Tuesday, school officials realized they had a problem.

They took drastic measures and closed the Wismer Dining Hall on Wednesday, reopening on Thursday.

Ursinus officials told students to go home Thursday.

Over the weekend, working with the Montgomery County Department of Health, they began an aggressive cleaning effort.

"Our cleaning service provider brought in additional staffing so we could be very aggressive in the cleaning and sanitizing," said Bryant, adding that "all of our common spaces on campus" were cleaned.

The college also reported the dining hall passed a Department of Health inspection on Saturday.

Monday morning the campus was quiet. Some students tell us many who went home sick opted to stay home another day

Most of Sarah Gow's housemates got sick early last week.

"They're better now," she said. "It was weird. They get really sick for 18 hours, then it's over."

Health officials said most students affected reported that symptoms went away within 12 to 24 hours.
Related Topics:
healthpennsylvania newsstudent safetyhealthfood safetyeducationCollegeville Borough
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