Officials at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have confirmed norovirus as the cause of an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea that affected students on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus this week.
More than 100 students have sought treatment for vomiting and diarrhea in the last several days.
“We believe that this number does not reflect the actual extent of the illness, as students are generally following our advice to self-isolate in their rooms,” says Dr. Robert Winfield, the university’s chief health officer.
The outbreak was first identified among students living in University Housing at West Quad and South Quad.
“As we head into the weekend and the number of social activities increase on campus, it is especially important for individuals to practice good hand hygiene and to avoid sharing food and drinks. For example, sing ‘The Victors’ (takes 20 seconds) while washing your hands with soap and water,” says Winfield.
The CDC says those who get ill should wash their hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before meals. Alcohol hand wipes are less effective but an acceptable second choice.
Additional prevention tips include not sharing drinks, clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces such as counter tops and cell phones, and to avoid others who may be ill. For surfaces, wipes containing chlorine are most effective against norovirus.
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.
Officials from the University Health Service, the U-M Health System, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Washtenaw County Public Health Department will continue to collaborate in trying to determine the source of the outbreak.
Additionally, the university will continue using a special virus-related cleaning procedure in all dining facilities and all residence halls.