Norovirus Outbreak Suspected at University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown


During the last 48 hours, several University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown students have fallen ill and reported symptoms to the campus health services. University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Officials suspect that it is a norovirus outbreak and have subsequently canceled all weekend events held indoor for students. This includes the cancellation of cafeteria services for the students, who will instead be able to pick up pre-made meals.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reiterated the University’s sentiments by saying that they also believed that the gastrointestinal illness spreading around campus is the norovirus. The restrictions that the University has made are put in place to protect the students, faculty and staff. The idea is to put a stop to the spread of this norovirus.

Norovirus – also called stomach flu or food poisoning – is extremely contagious, hence why the University has taken many steps to stop the spread of the virus. The virus is an airborne illness and therefore can be spread through infected people. It can also be spread through contaminated food, water and surfaces. If a student contracts the norovirus they may experience symptoms that include: fever, chills, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and overall stomach uneasiness.

Officials recommend that students cut down on the time spent with other students in order to prevent exposure to the illness, as the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown have a suspected norovirus outbreak. The disease is spread most rapidly in closed and crowded indoor areas. Generally, the symptoms only last one or two days, but can be very painful during that time.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown not only closed the cafeteria, but also closed their wellness center. The Office of Health and Counseling has extended their weekend hours after the suspected outbreak. The University has hired surplus staff to perform additional cleanings and sanitization of the campus and wellness center to prevent the spread of the norovirus. Although indoor events were cancelled over the weekend, students will resume classes on Monday morning.

Students who are sick with the illness are being accommodated with the close of the cafeteria. Meals are being delivered to the rooms of those with the norovirus. If the student provides their information, a meal will be delivered within an hour.

There are many preventive steps that can be taken in order to avoid the norovirus. The University has given the students, faculty and staff helpful measures to take to avoid contracting and spreading the illness. This includes thorough hand washing on a frequent basis, particularly after using the restroom and preparing or eating food. Also, extensive disinfecting and cleaning of surfaces directly after exhibiting an illness episode can help the spread of the norovirus. Another step that can be taken is washing infected linens and clothing immediately after exhibiting symptoms. The last step given by the University is to flush the toilet and make sure the area is kept clean. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that washing produce and cooking seafood all the way through are important factors in prevention of the norovirus. The CDC also says that a sick individual should not prepare food for another person. These tips are recommended as the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown experiences a suspected norovirus outbreak.

By Rebecca Hofland
Follow Rebecca on Twitter @rebeccahofland

The Global Dispatch
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