According to Montgomery County officials, an outbreak at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania was caused by norovirus. More than 200 students, faculty, and staff at the college were sickened in the past week.
Phoenixville Hospital confirmed that tests on two students confirmed the presence of the pathogenic virus. Montgomery County Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh, a physician and Interim Medical Director of the Health Department said in a statement, “This is the agent we have suspected since the outbreak began. While the illness has been truly unfortunate, this has been a model of cooperation between the various health agencies and Ursinus. We will continue to be vigilant and work closely with Ursinus to focus on hygiene measures to reduce transmission.”
Ursinus College medical Director Dr. Paul Doghramji said in a statement, “Members of the campus community who develop symptoms should continue to contact the Wellness Center. Anyone who has been ill should follow CDC Guidelines to prevent the virus from spreading., This includes practicing good hygiene, avoiding well people for a few days, and cleaning clothes, linens, and contaminated surfaces.”
The college has been monitoring illnesses, promoting hand hygiene, conducted environmental disinfection, and excluding ill food workers. Ursine College President Brock Blomberg said, “this has been a difficult time for students and their families. The safety and wellbeing of our students remains our top priority.”
Norovirus is very contagious. Cases and outbreaks of norovirus illnesses increase during the winter months, when more people are indoors. It can be transmitted through contaminated food and water, through person-to-person contact, and through contact with surfaces that have been contaminated.
To prevent the spread of this illness, it’s important that anyone who is sick, especially with a diarrheal or vomiting illness, to stay home and avoid others. Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, and be especially thorough if you are ill. Wash your hands after caring for someone who is sick. And wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food or serving food.