Norovirus Hits Dozens Of Students
November 5, 2004

BOULDER, Colo. — An outbreak of the high-contagious norovirus prompted health officials at the University of Colorado at Boulder to recommend precautionary measures for students.

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the ìstomach flu,î or gastroenteritis, in people. The malady causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Norovirus is often termed the “cruise ship virus,” even thought the vast majority — some 60 percent to 80 percent of outbreaks — occur on land.

About 35 students have come down with the symptoms since Oct. 26, a CU spokesman said on Thursday.

Because most of the students reporting symptoms live in campus residence halls, food poisoning initially was suspected as a cause. However, an investigation by health officials found that norovirus was to blame for outbreak.

“Although the norovirus is not life threatening, it does spread easily,” said Robert Cranny, the campus health director. “For that reason we are taking every precaution to notify students via flyers, email messages and residence hall meetings so that we can stop the spread of the virus.”

In addition to educating students and residence hall staff, custodial staff in the residence halls will conduct extra cleaning of residence hall restrooms. They also will take additional precautions to prevent the spread of the virus among themselves, by wearing masks, gloves and goggles for the next two weeks until the outbreak subsides, Cranny said.

Students are being urged to practice frequent hand washing. The virus can become airborne and then ingested in saliva or can be spread from countertops and areas around toilets. Residence halls will stock more cleaning supplies so that students can clean areas immediately if they or their roommates become sick.

To help prevent spreading the norovirus and becoming ill, students and staff are being advised to:

ï wash hands frequently after using the bathroom, before preparing food, before touching the mouth or eating, and after preparing food
ï flush away vomitus in toilets and disinfect the area afterward using a bleach-based cleaner; when using trash bins, remove and dispose of the liner, making sure not to spread vomitus
ï remove and wash contaminated clothing or bed linens, using soap and hot water
ï not share food with people who have been sick and not to offer to share food if you have been sick
ï don’t work in a food service establishment until 72 hours after symptoms of the illness have passed
ï carefully wash fruits and vegetables before eating
More information can be found on the Centers For Disease Control Web site.