Gastroenteritis hits campus for second straight year as 40 report to McCosh Health Center
Forty students with symptoms of acute gastroenteritis have received care from University Health Services at McCosh Health Center since Jan. 8, according to University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua.
A Campus Health Advisory issued by University Health Services to undergraduate students Friday afternoon said UHS has seen “more than the usual number” of cases of gastroenteritis in the past week. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed that samples taken from a few early UHS cases tested positive for norovirus, the most common causative agent of gastroenteritis.
That confirmation prompted University Health Services to issue the Campus Health Advisory to all undergraduate students Friday afternoon. The email informs students of the presence of norovirus on campus and issues tips on how to avoid contracting the contagion.
Outbreaks of the intestinal illness frequently recur in January and February. Last year's outbreak, the largest in 10 years, affected at least 288 students, including 80 who fell ill in just six days from Feb. 10 to Feb. 16. The outbreak, which was also caused by a norovirus, was so large that McCosh had to temporarily redirect students to the University Medical Center at Princeton the weekend of Feb. 18 because McCosh lacked available beds.
“Because of last year's events and because it's exam period, it became necessary to alert the community so everyone could take precautions,” Mbugua said.
In addition to issuing the Campus Health Advisory, the University is reminding all staff involved in food preparation on campus and in the eating clubs to practice good hygiene. Building Services staff were also instructed to clean common surfaces like doorknobs and handrails to minimize the spread of the virus.