Suspected norovirus outbreak at Stanford investigated

More than 50 students at Stanford University are coping from a suspected outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus.
October 31, 2013 11:35:38 PM PDT
More than 50 students at Stanford University are coping from a suspected outbreak of the norovirus. It's highly contagious stomach bug with flu-like symptoms. Health officials are taking quick action to try to prevent it from spreading.

"I wash my hands and always keep antibacterial around me," student Ujjay Brawley said.

Brawley isn't taking chances. He's a student living at Stanford's Florence Moore dorm where 52 students got sick this week. All 453 students there are being warned to take precautions.

"If somebody's sick to not keep in contact with them for a few days while they get better," Brawley said.

University officials quickly notified the Santa Clara County Health Department when students first got sick on Tuesday. Four were treated for dehydration at the hospital but not admitted.

"The symptoms are very similar to that of norovrius," said Amy Cornell with the health department. "The students, most of them experienced vomiting, also nausea, and some of them experience and diarrhea as well."

Norovirus is a gastrointestinal virus which can be spread from an infected person or contaminated food or water. It's common on cruise ships, in nursing homes, and college dorms.

While county health officials are trying to locate the cause of the outbreak, a top to bottom cleaning of the dorm is happening now.

For now, the dorm's dining hall is serving pre-plated meals, not buffet style. It will be closed Friday and Saturday so it can be disinfected as a precaution.

In the meantime, others like student Wayne Shu are playing it safe.

"Just wash your hands," he said. "And when you cough, make sure to do it in your elbow. It really disturbs me when people cough in their hands."

The health department's investigation could take more than a week to determine a cause.


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