UNC sicknesses linked to norovirus

March 4, 2013 2:56:46 PM PST
At least 85 people got sick on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill and doctors now say it has been linked to the norovirus.

The outbreak happened between Feb. 27 and March 1. Students sought medical care for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or fever.

An electronic survey was sent out to students seen by the Campus Health Service in an effort to identify a possible common exposure. Fifty surveys were returned with no single meal or venue indicated as a likely source of the exposures.

Three of five samples sent to the NC State Laboratory of Public Health to be tested for norovirus were positive. Samples tested for salmonella, shigella, campylobacter and shiga-toxin producing e-coli were negative.

As of Monday afternoon, Campus Health Services reported seeing five students for gastrointestinal issues. School officials said this is considered to be normal for this time of year and not necessarily related to last week's outbreak.

As a preventative measure, campus dining and campus housing will utilize additional disinfecting measures specifically to eliminate norovirus in facilities where students have been ill.

Individuals can help prevent norovirus with proper hand washing and cleaning of commonly touched surfaces with bleach- based cleaning supplies. Food handlers should not work in food service until symptom-free for 72 hours after experiencing a noro-like illness. 

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