Norovirus cases on the decline at OSU

Cheyenne Lever Practicum Contributor

Health officials, university working to stop spread of virus on OSU campus

The Benton County Environmental Health Department is teaming up with Oregon State University to put an end to the Norovirus outbreak on the OSU campus.

“The Norovirus is a type of illness that’s easily transmitted from person-to-person contact or through food,” said Benton County Environmental Health Division Director Bill Emminger.

This unique virus is very contagious because it takes very few particles to contract.

The first cases of Norovirus were reported at the start of the term. Although Norovirus has previously occurred in Corvallis and the state of Oregon, Benton County health officials suspect the virus was brought from students either out of state or out of country.

“Since the outbreak began we’re somewhere up at around 90 to 100 cases, but I think it is important to also point out that the number of cases does seem to be declining,” Emminger said.

Even though the number of cases has declined, officials say it is still imperative to frequently wash your hands.

A thorough twenty second hand washing with soap and water is the best way to protect yourself from contracting the virus according to Emminger.

If you are looking to disinfector your living area, Emminger recommends an EPA approved label disinfectant that specifically states that it kills the Norovirus.

University Housing and Dining Services is taking extra precautions to prevent further spread of the virus. UHDS has ceased all self-service operations and have taken their grab and go items off their shelves. There are many ways to contract this virus through common surfaces.

Symptoms that can be experienced after contracting the virus include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

“We immediately notified our custodial team to increase their frequency of touch-point cleaning, so door handles, elevator buttons, door jams – the kinds of things that everybody touches on a day to day basis to prevent the spread, ” said the Assistant Director of Operations for UHDS Joe McQuillin.

McQuillin said there are ways to ease symptoms of the Norovirus if one has already contracted it, but remembering to remain in isolation for up to 72 hours after your symptoms have stopped is important.

Student Health Services medicald doctor Jess Mull said that students suffering from the virus need to be vigilant and keep up on their fluid intake.

“The most important thing if you do get the illness is to keep up on fluids, and so sipping little bits at a time is what we tell people when they are vomiting so they’ll retain fluid, ”Mull said.

People who live in close quarters are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, according to Mull.

“The biggest risks are people living in residence halls because they share bathrooms or other living areas like Greek houses. It is important people know that the alcohol based hand cleaners do not work against Norovirus,” Mull said.

OSU has provided a service through UHDS called the Food Buddy Program, which is a program that allows friends to purchase food on your behalf if you are ill. UHDS emphasizes how important self-isolation is in order to stop the outbreak.

“It’s literally in the hands of the students,” Emminger said

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