28 MSU students suddenly fall sick

Source of Article: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20090402/NEWS06/904020339/1001/NEWS


College pulls produce, closes one dining hall

Matthew Miller mrmiller@lsj.com April 2, 2009 From Lansing State Journal

EAST LANSING - Michigan State University closed one dining hall Wednesday and temporarily pulled fresh produce from cafeterias across the campus after 28 students were hospitalized with an unidentified gastrointestinal illness.

The first cases hit at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, MSU spokesman Kent Cassella said. Afflicted students, suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, were taken to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.

Hospital spokeswoman Rose Tantraphol said that, as of 5:30 p.m., all but 12 of those students had been released. None of those remaining were in serious condition.

"Some of my friends, one minute they looked fine, 20 minutes later they were throwing up," said Reinhold Tischler, a freshman who lives in Shaw Hall, where most of the afflicted students live. Shaw's cafeteria has been closed indefinitely. "All of them threw up at the same time. It was the most awkward thing ever.

"People don't know whether it's food poisoning or if it's a virus going around that's really contagious," he added.

Tischler ate Tuesday in the Shaw cafeteria, which had him a little worried.

"It just concerns me because it's only happened in our dorm right now," said Laura Naumann, a senior who also lives in Shaw and works in the cafeteria there.

"I have a feeling that something in the cafeteria could have promoted some kind of sickness or food poisoning," she said. "But from working in there - and I work in the kitchen - I know it's really clean, so it kind of surprises me."

Dr. Dean Sienko, medical director of the Ingham County Health Department, said it's too early to tell exactly what caused the outbreak. It could be food-borne bacteria. It could be a virus.

"It looks like it's something that people get better with after being rehydrated," he said, "but it's early. I'd hate to draw broad conclusions until we have a little more time."

He said it doesn't appear to be E. coli. In September, a number of MSU students were hospitalized after eating iceberg lettuce contaminated with E. coli.

Sienko said his department is working to identify additional cases at MSU. It will conduct interviews with people who were affected and people who were not in an effort to narrow down the cause.

Physical specimens also are being sent to the Michigan Department of Community Health lab for testing.

The investigations "will take us at least a few more days," he said.

MSU urges students and staff to wash hands frequently with warm soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds and not to share any personal items such as toothbrushes, silverware or glasses.

Those with symptoms are asked to contact Olin Student Health Center at (517) 353-5557.





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