Due to an illness that has spread across campus, many students have been suffering from a gastrointestinal virus.Initially, many of the students thought that the illness was food poisoning which has some of the same symptoms that their illness demonstrated. However, the university said it believes it is a virus and has called the Chester County Health Department. They are currently waiting to hear what is determined about the outbreak.
The illness took ahold of the student body last week. The affects of the illness take action within hours of exposure. The symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Some victims have also experienced muscle aches, fatigue and low-grade fevers. In addition, dehydration has occurred in some of the cases, mostly caused from the vomiting and diarrhea. The good news is that most people recover usually after a day or two.
“It felt like the sweet embrace of a grim death,” freshman student Kevin Burke said, explaining how he felt while he was affected by the illness.
Gastrointestinal viruses, are contagious and primarily spread by ingesting contaminated food or water, touching surfacing or objects contaminated with the virus and placing hands in the mouth, or having direct contact with an infecting person.
According to the Chester County Health Department, the illness might be related to a viral illness that was recently reported at a hotel in Philadelphia. Other causes are also being looked at before a definite cause is decided upon for this specific outbreak.
WCU isn’t the only school with an outbreak of that kind. A Moravian College (located in Bethelem, Pa.) junior explained that she has seen similar incidents at her school. On a national scale, an article from the University of Michigan stated that students have been suffering the same kind of out-break. In Michigan, however, officials believe their illnesses might have been caused by the Norwalk Virus, also known as norovirus, or the rotovirus, which is similar to Norwalk. Norwalk virus is also a gastrointestinal virus.
Norwalk victims become infected by eating stool-contaminated food or water. In the U.S. it is usually associated with raw oysters.
A Health Center worker said that President Madeleine Wing Adler declared that the Health Center will stay open all weekend to help treat any students who might be sick with the illness. The university has also offered the following safety advisories to prevent the illness from spreading:
* Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief when sneezing or coughing.
* Wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before eating and preparing food.
* Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
* Carefully wash all fruits and vegetables , and steam oysters before eating them.
* Immediately remove and wash in soap and hot water clothing and linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness.
* Keep bathroom areas clean, especially after an episode of vomiting or diarrhea.
If feeling sick, students are urged to go to the health center in Wayne Hall to get checked out. If they are too weak to go, call the health center at extension 2509 or public safety at extension 3311.