Norovirus hits Oregon State University campus

By Brendan Carr

News Contributor

Moving from hands to surfaces, the Norovirus has been spreading around Oregon State University over the past week, infecting over 70 people since the initial outbreak.

The first diagnosis of the virus was the afternoon of March 30, doctors at the SHS on campus noticed an increased number of cases during that time period.

SHS then contacted residence halls that night. University Housing and Dining Services coordinated with the dining and residence halls to put extra attention into cleaning.

According to Dr Jeff Mull, the medical director at Student Health Services, dining halls are using special types of cleaners to fight the virus at touch points such as door knobs and table tops.

Mull said that while there is no way of knowing how long the virus will be around, or in multiple residence and dining halls, the threat to students is fairly low.

“It’ll really be a matter of how much good hygiene people use,” Mull said. “As far as seriousness, in young healthy people this doesn’t tend to be serious. You feel bad, but as long as you can keep up with your fluids or get IVs most people will be fine.”

Self-serve items such as salad bars have been taken off menus, said Jennifer Viña, associate director of marketing and communications at UHDS.

Residence halls are stepping up their cleaning services, recommending that any vomiting should be called in to officials at the residence halls. Professionals will come in and make sure the room is completely disinfected.

In addition, both the dining and residence halls have begun cleaning the bathrooms twice per day, and taking extra care in areas where people with the illness have gone.

“The best prevention is good hygiene,” Mull said. “We know this virus is very contagious, you don’t need many virus particles to become ill from it, so it’s important to wash hands frequently.”

Soap and water are the most effective when washing hands, alcohol based cleaners are not effective against the illness, according to Mull. The illness itself begins with just feeling bad, before leading into stomach aches, fever, diarrhea and vomiting, Mull said.

Jake Uselman, a junior in nuclear engineering, contracted the virus last week.

“I thought it had been a long day,” Uselman said.

His fatigued feeling lasted for about three to four hours, he said, before vomiting routinely every 40 minutes to an hour.

Due to the regular timing of the vomiting, Uselman was not able to sleep, leading to extreme fatigue.

Uselman’s vomiting lasted 24 hours, after which he felt queasy for another 2-3 days.

Mull recommends staying in bed for 72 hours after symptoms of the illness end. The norovirus, while not transmitted through the skin, can be transmitted from skin contact after using the restroom.

Any students who are infected should try to stay at home and keep hydrated as much as possible to avoid spreading the virus.

If students cannot keep hydrated on their own, SHS can give students IV fluids and medicine to help stop the vomiting and slow down the diarrhea.

baro.news@oregonstate.edu