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College students come down with norovirus

OSHKOSH (WLUK) — Dozens of University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh students have come down with Norovirus-like symptoms.

University officials say about 40 students are affected and live in South Scott Hall, but there are scattered cases in other dorms.

The illness causes stomach pain, severe vomiting and diarrhea. The university recommends washing hands to stop the spread of the disease. Those who are sick are asked to stay home.

Students can request out-of-class letters from the dean of students office. Campus cafeterias offer a sick tray option for students who don’t want to leave their rooms.

If you’re experiencing norovirus symptoms the university wants to hear from you.

“We’re due diligently trying to prevent the further spread and contamination on our campus,” said Pamela MacWilliams, UWO health services director.

The Centers for Disease Control says norovirus symptoms include diarrhea, throwing up, nausea and stomach pain.

“Our custodial staff have implemented CDC recommendations for viruses and more often so it’s all of our academic buildings, all of the bathrooms trash receptacles, making sure that the trash is removed quicker,” MacWilliams said.

The university learned about the virus last Friday thanks to a phone call from a parent. Then on Monday, another parent informed the school.

“Norovirus is transmitted from infected vomit and stool so it’s, hand-washing is key to prevent the spread of norovirus,” MacWilliams said.

As for students, some are aware of the outbreak, others aren’t.

“A lot of people in a lot of the halls ended up being sick usually a lot after class,” said Noah Minster.

“We’re on Cherry Street which is like three blocks from campus so, I don’t know if that’s, because we live so far away that we didn’t hear about it. It was just that word didn’t get around to anyone we live by,” said Turner Van Krey.

UWO sent an email to students that says, “…health and safety of our campus community is a top priority…”

The school says it will continue to monitor the outbreak.

Read the full letter sent to the campus:

Dear Campus Community:

In recent days, we have seen an increased number of UW Oshkosh students affected by the highly contagious norovirus. Norovirus can cause the sudden onset of stomach pain, severe vomiting and diarrhea.

The health and safety of our campus community is a top priority. The University is taking every precaution to contain the spread of the illness and to assist ill students.

At present, approximately 40 students have reported norovirus-like symptoms. Most of the affected students live in South Scott Hall, however additional cases have been identified in other campus housing locations.

The most effective way to stop the spread of the norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses is to practice good handwashing and hygiene and stay home if you are exhibiting symptoms. Out of class letters may be requested by contacting Wanda Timm in the Dean of Students Office at [email protected] Dining Services does offer a sick tray option for those who rely on campus food services.

The Winnebago County Public Health Department and the UW Oshkosh Student Health Center share the following information to help educate and limit the spread of norovirus in our community:

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is a virus that causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping.

How is norovirus spread?

The virus is found in the stool or vomit of someone infected with norovirus. The virus can be spread by eating food or drink that has been contaminated with norovirus as well as by touching objects with norovirus on them (shaking hands with an infected person, touching a doorknob or keyboard that has norovirus on it and then touching your mouth, etc.)

What are the signs and symptoms of norovirus?

Symptoms usually begin 12-48 hours after becoming infected with the virus and can include:

• Vomiting

• Watery, non-bloody diarrhea

• Stomach cramps

What is the treatment for norovirus?

• There is no treatment for norovirus; people usually recover on their own 2-3 days after symptoms start.

• Drinking plenty of liquids is important to replace fluid loss and to make sure the body does not become dehydrated.

How can norovirus be prevented?

• Handwashing is the most important step to prevent the spread of norovirus. It is essential to wash hands after using the restroom and before touching food.

• Anyone with diarrhea or vomiting should stay home and not attend class until symptoms are gone in order to prevent spreading norovirus to others.

• People with diarrhea or who are vomiting should not handle food, work in or attend daycare centers or schools or take care of patients in a healthcare facility until 48 hours after their symptoms are gone.

As is our practice whenever health and safety concerns arise, we pledge to keep you informed should there be an update. In the meantime, these helpful websites can provide additional information on norovirus:

• https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p4/p42075.pdf

• https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html

• www.mayoclinic.com

For questions or concerns, please contact the Student Health Center:

• WebPortal Secure Messaging for students: https://shcportal.uwosh.edu

• Email: [email protected]

• Phone: (920) 424-2424

Students who are presenting symptoms should contact their CA and then remain in their rooms. Students experiencing persistent, severe vomiting or diarrhea should go to the Student Health Center, a personal health care provider or an emergency healthcare facility. Students who are not ill should go about normal routines.

Cheryl Green, Ph.D.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

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