February 17, 2016
The university currently is investigating an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness on campus, first identified among students living in University Housing at West and South quads.
Between 75-100 students have become ill and sought treatment in the last few days.
"This appears to be a viral-type illness, like norovirus," says Dr. Robert Winfield, chief health officer. "Test results sent to the Michigan Department of Community Health won't be complete until late Friday afternoon or early next week."
The university is taking all necessary precautions and has instituted special virus-related cleaning procedures in all dining facilities and all residence halls.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus is highly contagious and can easily spread from person to person. Both stool and vomit are contagious. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
The CDC says those who get ill should wash their hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before meals.
"With some viral gastroenteritis such as norovirus, people are contagious from the moment they begin to feel ill until at least two days after recovery," adds Winfield. "Good hand hygiene is particularly critical to breaking the chain of transmission. For example, sing 'The Victors' (takes 20 seconds) while washing your hands with soap and water."
Officials from the University Health Service, the U-M Health System, the Department of Community Health and Washtenaw County Public Health Department are collaborating in the management of these cases and remain in close communication.
Winfield also adds, "Since norovirus is highly contagious, students who develop symptoms should isolate themselves in their rooms until they are symptom-free for 48 hours."
Students in the residence halls should contact their hall director to arrange for food delivery and cleaning assistance. Students who are unable to attend class should contact their professors directly via email or phone.
Individuals may feel very sick for 24 to 72 hours. Most people improve within one to three days. If students are unable to keep liquids down for 24 hours, they should seek medical attention. Students who are able may want to go home to recover but should not use public transportation.