D.C. Department of Health Confirms: Norovirus Back at CUA

Source of Article:  http://blogs.cuatower.com/2009/01/26/norovirus/

Norovirus, which spread across campus in December 2006, is back according to an e-mail from the CUA Office of Public Affairs.

Today, D.C.’s Department of Health told Catholic University’s Student Health Services that initial tests confirmed the illnesses were caused by the virus. The first student was treated on the evening of Jan. 21, and 23 students have reported symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The University has focused additional cleaning efforts on buildings frequented by students, and Dining Services has implemented a series of precautionary measures, according to the e-mail.

“While all the known instances of the illness have occurred among the student population, all members of the campus community are asked to be attentive to this outbreak and to follow recommendations for containing it,” said the e-mail. “In particular, we would like to remind all students to be vigilant about hand washing, to not share eating utensils, and to refrain from group activities, if they are ill.”

In Dec. 2006, 130 Catholic University students fell ill during exam week because of the virus. The District of Columbia’s Department of Health (DOH) found no specific cause or source of the Norovirus outbreak, but found that the risk factors for becoming ill included living in the dorms, eating in the student cafeteria and using the on-campus computer labs.

Two separate food inspectors with the DOH found several critical violations on Dec. 12, 2006, which required correction within five days. Such violations included improper glove and hair restraint, poor hand-washing, unclean food utensils and equipment, and the presence of fruit flies.

While the food preparation area violations were “not egregious,” the University fixed them and in addition, has spent thousands of dollars on new equipment and training for custodial staff.

On Dec. 13, 2006, four food samples were taken from the cafeteria: the jerk chicken, Caribbean chicken, rice and beans and sausage. Bacteria cultures of these samples tested negative for growth. At the recommendation of the DOH, the University instituted a mass cleaning of the campus using dilute bleach on Dec. 14, 2006.

The DOH recommended increasing the availability of alcohol-based hand cleaning gels in the cafeteria. The University was working on placing the dispensers in computer labs and other common areas and encouraging students to wash their hands frequently.

The Jan. 26, 2009 e-mail from Victor Nakas:

The District of Columbia Department of Health informed Catholic University Student Health Services this afternoon that initial test results indicate that the recent gastrointestinal illness being experienced by some CUA students is caused by norovirus. Since the first student was treated late in the evening on Jan. 21, 23 students have reported symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

While all the known instances of the illness have occurred among the student population, all members of the campus community are asked to be attentive to this outbreak and to follow recommendations for containing it that are outlined in the Web sites indicated at the end of this message. In particular, we would like to remind all students to be vigilant about hand washing, to not share eating utensils, and to refrain from group activities, if they are ill.

Since last Thursday, Jan. 22, the university’s Custodial and Special Event Services staff have focused additional cleaning and sanitization efforts on targeted buildings frequented by students. CUA’s Dining Services has also implemented a series of precautionary sanitization measures.

Students who develop symptoms are advised to follow the suggestions on the Student Health Services Web site at http://health.cua.edu/selfhelp/Nausea.cfm or call Student Health Services at 202-319-5744 to make an appointment. If you are experiencing extreme dizziness, lightheadedness, increased abdominal pain, or blood in the vomit or stool, you may need to be seen in the emergency room. Please call Student Health Services between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. before heading to the emergency room. When Student Health Services is closed, an on-call physician is available for consultation by calling 202-269-7000. Calling the after-hour physician is always recommended before heading directly to the emergency room. The operator will take your information and have the doctor call you.

Additional Resources:

www.cdc.gov - http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/norovirus.htm

www.doh.dc.gov - http://www.doh.dc.gov/doh/cwp/view,a,1370,q,602626.asp

 

 

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