Norovirus outbreak at Rider prompts campus-wide warning

The College community received an email from Student Health Services on Thursday Feb. 9 about a suspected outbreak of Norovirus at Rider University.

According to the email, there have been no indications of such an outbreak on the College’s campus, but Health Services did recommend that students take extra personal caution by maintaining serious hygienic practices.

Outbreaks of the virus have already occurred on Princeton University’s campus.

“We have had cases of gastroenteritis illness,” Martin Mbugua, a Princeton University Spokesman, said. “We’ve had samples tested and they came up positive with Norovirus.”

Since Jan. 29, there have been about 110 cases. Some samples tested positive for gastroenteritis, at which point it was assumed that Norovirus was present on the campus, Mbugua said.

Rider University’s campus has also dealt with about fifty cases since the end of January, with 11 students being hospitalized last night, according to The Star Ledger. Representatives at Rider’s Student Health Services refused to comment.

Characteristics of being infected with Norovirus are “abrupt onset of vomiting accompanied by watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea,” the email said. Student Health Services also said that such symptoms can last anywhere from 24 to 60 hours and if someone is experiencing the symptoms, they should contact Student Health Services or their personal health care provider.

The email listed a number of hygienic practices known to reduce the risk of spreading this gastrointestinal illness. Washing one’s hands thoroughly before and after eating, typing on a computer keyboard, operating exercise equipment and using the bathroom or any other shared item were all mentioned.

Student Health Services also recommended avoiding contact with sick persons, taking off from classes, sports and other obligations when sick and avoiding sharing towels, eating utensils, food, beverages and containers with other people. Getting proper sleep, exercise, diet and fluid intake were also recommended in the email.

Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach virus and “is often called by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu and food poisoning,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Dehydration can also be a serious problem for people afflicted with Norovirus and is also very contagious. Norovirus can spread very rapidly in closed areas, and people infected with it can be contagious from the point they experience symptoms, to as long as two weeks after their symptoms cease, according to the CDCP’s website.

Because there are no vaccines or drugs available to treat Norovirus, infected persons are highly recommended to drink lots of fluids, which are lost from excessive diarrhea and vomiting that occur when infected with the virus.

Student Health Services’s email included a link provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that includes more information about Norovirus. Student Health Services also recommended students call 609-771-2889 or email health@tcnj.edu for further information.