George Washington University warned students, faculty and staff to guard against norovirus after dozens of case of norovirus were reported since Monday.
About 85 cases of gastrointestinal illness identified since Monday were caused by norovirus, according to Student Health Service and the D.C. Department of Health. Most cases were reported in the past 24 hours.
What health officials haven’t identified is a single commonality among the patients. They live on the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses as well as off-campus, and they take class, study and eat in various locations.
“Since January 1, 2012, the Division of Epidemiology, Disease Surveillance and Investigation has investigated three outbreaks in which norovirus has been identified as the pathogen," read a statement from the D.C. Health Department. "The DC Public Health Laboratory has laboratory confirmed norovirus in 13 human isolates during the investigation of these three outbreaks. Outbreaks of norovirus during this time of year are not uncommon. While norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year, nationally over 80 percent of them occur during November-April."
Norovirus is passed by close contact with an infected person, touching an infected surface and then placing hands or fingers in the mouth, and eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated liquid.
Students, faculty and staff should wash hands frequently and disinfect surfaces. The university is increasing its cleaning of popular common areas, including Marvin Center, the Gelman Library, and the Lerner Health and Wellness Center. And Metro has stepped up sanitation at the Foggy Bottom station.
Norovirus usually is not serious and most patients recover within two days. It can be serious for young children, the elderly and people with existing health conditions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, norovirus has the following common symptoms:
- Stomach cramps
Less common symptoms include:
- Low-grade fever
- Muscle aches
- General sense of fatigue
It can also cause dehydration in patients who don’t drink enough liquid to replace fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Decrease in urination
- Dry mouth and throat
- Dizziness when standing up
Dehydrated children also may cry with few or no tears and may seem unusually tired or fussy.