For Immediate Release: April 17, 2019
Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281
Health Department Investigating Gastrointestinal Illness Outbreak at Norwich University
BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of gastrointestinal (GI) illness at Norwich University after more than two dozen students and staff reported being sick. Health officials say the administration at Norwich is cooperating in the investigation. Based on the symptoms and length of illness reported, norovirus is suspected but has not yet been confirmed through laboratory testing.
Norovirus is a common cause of gastrointestinal illness. Symptoms often include diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. People who are ill from a norovirus may also experience headaches, body aches and fever.
The virus spreads very easily from person to person. People get norovirus by coming into direct contact with someone who is sick, touching a surface that has been contaminated with norovirus and then placing their hands in their mouth, or by eating or drinking something contaminated with norovirus. Symptoms usually start 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus. There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but most people get better within one to three days. Antibiotics will not help if you are sick with norovirus.
Dehydration is one of the main concerns with any GI illness and can lead to serious problems. People who are sick should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhea to prevent dehydration.
If you are sick with a GI illness, contact your health care provider and take steps to prevent it from spreading to others:
- Stay home from classes or work for 24 hours after vomiting and diarrhea have stopped.
- Food handlers should stay home from work for 48 hours after symptoms have stopped. Here are more tips for how food handlers can help stop the spread of illness.
- Health care providers and people who work at a child care facility should also stay home from work for 48 hours after vomiting and diarrhea have stopped.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom or after caring for someone who is sick. Hand sanitizers are not as effective at removing norovirus particles.
- Don’t share food or drinks with others if you have symptoms or are sick.
- Immediately remove, machine wash and dry any clothing or linens soiled by vomit or diarrhea.
Learn more about norovirus: healthvermont.gov/norovirus
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