Stomach Bug on Campus

Gastroenteritis—the stomach bug

Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines) can be caused by bacteria and viruses. This inflammation can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. Most cases of gastroenteritis are viral, with 50-70% of gastroenteritis in adults being caused by norovirus.

Norovirus illness is often called by other names, such as food poisoning and stomach flu. It is true that noroviruses can cause food poisoning. But, other germs and chemicals can also cause food poisoning. Norovirus illness is not related to the flu (influenza), which is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.

Anyone can get norovirus illness

  • Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States.
  • Many different types of norovirus exist, so you can get infected and sick many times
  • in your life.
  • Norovirus illness can make you feel extremely sick with diarrhea and vomiting many
  • times a day.
  • Some people may get severely dehydrated, especially young children, the elderly,
  • and people with other illnesses.

Norovirus spreads very easily and quickly by

  • touching surfaces or objects that have norovirus on them then putting your fingers

in your mouth,

  • having close personal contact with an infected person, for example, caring for or

sharing food, drinks, or eating utensils with an infected person, and

  • eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus,

Since there is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection and no drug to treat it, (antibiotics will not help with norovirus illness because antibiotics do not work on viruses)

What should I do?

  • WASH HANDS frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water unavailable.
  • Drink plenty of liquids beginning with sips to replace fluid loss and prevent dehydration.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch (phones, keyboards, door handles) and potentially contaminated surfaces
  • Wash contaminated laundry and linens

Call Student Health for an appointment for bloody vomit or stool, signs of dehydration, severe pain or any worsening symptoms.

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