The UW-Oshkosh campus is experiencing a Norovirus outbreak. According to campus leaders, more than 40 students are sick.
UWO has a campus population of 14,000, 40 people have been infected. Leaders say most live in South Scott Hall, but other cases have been identified in different housing locations.
“I think initially the students might not have known that they had Norovirus and how highly contagious it was,” said Pamela MacWilliams, UWO Health Services Director. “So I can't say that they didn't go to class, or go to the library or go to work. I'm assuming they would have stayed home because they would have felt pretty ill.”
Norovirus causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. The virus is found in the stool or vomit of someone infected with Norovirus. The virus can be spread by eating food or drink that has been contaminated with Norovirus as well as by touching objects with Norovirus on them (shaking hands with an infected person, touching a doorknob or keyboard that has Norovirus on it and then touching your mouth, etc.)
Symptoms usually begin 12 to 48 hours after becoming infected with the virus. There is no treatment for Norovirus. People usually recover on their own 2-3 days after symptoms start.
At this time, cleaning crews are working to disinfect campus areas.
“All of our academic buildings, all of the bathrooms, trash receptacles, making sure that the trash is removed quicker,” said MacWilliams.
MacWilliams said they do anticipate more cases. They're launching a web site for students to keep up with reminders. If students do come down with Norovirus, they should contact housing and stay in their rooms.
“We're due diligently trying to prevent the further spread and contamination on our campus,” said MacWilliams.
The most effective way to stop the spread of the Norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses is to practice good hand washing and hygiene and stay home if you are exhibiting symptoms. People with diarrhea or who are vomiting should not handle food, work in or attend daycare centers or schools or take care of patients in a healthcare facility until 48 hours after their symptoms are gone.