The university continues to support sick students as it waits for test results to confirm a possible outbreak of norovirus on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus.
“While we haven’t seen an uptick in the number of students seeking treatment, it could be that students are following our advice to self-isolate in their room,” says Dr. Robert Winfield, the university’s chief health officer.
Test results sent to the Michigan Department of Community Health are expected Friday or early next week.
The university has implemented the following actions since Tuesday afternoon:
• The university instituted special virus-related cleaning procedures in all dining facilities and all residence halls.
• An email was sent to all students on the Ann Arbor campus describing self-care strategies and encouraging sick students to self-isolate until they are symptom-free for 48 hours.
• Student Life is providing “feel better meals” that students can order and have a friend pick up from the dining hall.
• University Housing is providing additional cleaning supplies to students in residence halls.
The timing of this illness has been stressful for students as they prepare for midterm exams.
Martha E. Pollack, provost and executive vice president, sent an email to deans encouraging faculty to be as flexible as possible in arranging accommodations for students who report being ill.
“This is not only to relieve the stress on the students who are sick, but also for the good of the whole campus, as we are asking students who are sick to stay home and not venture out unless they need to go for emergency care,” Pollack said.
The Dean of Students Office also is available as a resource for any student who is having difficulty with requests for academic accommodations.
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.
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 Michigan Department of Community Health and Washtenaw County Public Health Department continue to collaborate in the management of these cases and remain in close communication.
Individuals may feel very sick for 24-72 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.