14 students diagnosed with gastrointestinal illness, not norovirus

Last February, the South Quad dining hall was the source of a norovirus outbreak.

Last February, the South Quad dining hall was the source of a norovirus outbreak.
FILE PHOTO/Daily

 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - 6:22pm

Since Monday, there has been ongoing speculation regarding a recent norovirus outbreak in certain dorms, dining halls and off-campus locations.

One student tweeted about the virus on Monday morning, expressing concern over a possible outbreak happening on campus.


Another tweeted about the virus early on Tuesday.


However, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said he verified with University Health Service Tuesday that in the previous two days just 14 students have come into the clinic with gastrointestinal illness, something he said is normal during the winter months.

“It’s not concentrated in any area at all,” Fitzgerald said. “They always ask where students live and they said they’ve been scattered on campus and off campus — no concentration that would indicate any sort of outbreak. They’ll continue to watch this closely, and working with keeping track through — again this is normal practice, but they’ve reached out to Housing and Health Department.”

Fitzgerald also said representatives at Michigan Medicine — formerly the University of Michigan Health System — have seen no uptick in normal number of gastrointestinal illness at the emergency department, further indicating the number is normal for gastrointestinal illness in the winter. Fitzgerald added it will take time to confirm this through lab tests and there have been no confirmed cases of norovirus at this point.

Students have also heard rumors of the norovirus at Chi Phi fraternity located on Washtenaw Avenue, though the Daily was unable to confirm this as of Tuesday evening.

The most recent outbreak of norovirus was in February 2016, when speculation about the virus on campus began when approximately 75 to 100 students were confirmed to be experiencing symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, according to an email sent by the late Dr. Robert Winfield, then-executive director of UHS. These instances were confirmed later in the week by the Office of Public Affairs as confirmed cases of norovirus. The norovirus remained on campus until early March.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms of the norovirus include diarrhea, throwing up, nausea and stomach pain, along with fever, headaches and body aches. Symptoms usually develop 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus. The CDC also states norovirus is the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States, many of which occur in the food service industry.