Norovirus Identified as Cause of GI Illness on Campus
Norovirus is the cause of the unknown gastrointestinal illness (infection affecting the stomach and/or intestines) spreading on the Georgia Tech campus. Norovirus was confirmed in samples by both the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness (FCDH) and Emory University on October 25th.
It is unknown how this easily spread virus came to the Georgia Tech campus. It began to spread after students returned to campus from fall break. No common food source, activity, or dining or residence location has been identified as the origin.
Dining Services and Housing, in addition to other campus departments such as Campus Recreation, the Student Center, West Village, and Parking and Transportation, continue to use enhanced cleaning procedures to help prevent additional spread of norovirus on campus.
Between October 11th and October 24th, Stamps Health Services has seen 136 patients with symptoms of the illness. Additionally, as of October 20th, 226 people completed the FCDH’s survey regarding the illness with 194 people reporting having had symptoms of a norovirus infection. While Stamps Health Services has begun to see a decline in the number of students coming in for treatment, norovirus can continue to circulate on college campuses for weeks to months if proper steps are not taken to prevent spread.
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that is commonly referred to as the “stomach bug” that causes your stomach and/or intestines to get inflamed. Preventing the spread of norovirus at Georgia Tech is everyone’s responsibility. Proper hand hygiene, in addition to maintaining good personal hygiene, is essential for preventing the spread of norovirus. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water especially after using the toilet and always before eating, preparing or handling food.
We ask all Georgia Tech community members to follow these simple steps to help prevent spread of this illness and other easily-spread infections:
- Stay home if you are sick. Stay home until you are symptom-free for at least 48 hours. Symptoms typically last 12 to 36 hours.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, whether you are sick or not. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water. Hand sanitizers do not work well against norovirus.
- Do not share food, drinks, eating utensils, or drink containers.
- Disinfect common surfaces with a bleach-based cleaning solution. Norovirus can live on hard surfaces, objects, and clothes and cause illness for days to weeks. Wash dirty laundry on longest wash cycle and machine dry.
- If you are sick, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated – both water and sports drinks can help, avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Properly wash and prepare food. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, throw out any food that might be contaminated with norovirus through being prepared or eaten by someone who is sick, and, if you are sick, do not prepare food for others until you have been symptom free for a week.
If you are currently experiencing symptoms, contact Stamps Health Services for an appointment (404-894-1420).
Follow Stamps Health Services on Facebook or go to health.gatech.edu/health-advisory for the latest information.