Dear Howard University Community:
The University has experienced a number of cases of a gastrointestinal illness among students within the last 24 hours. Forty students were treatedand subsequently released at Howard University Hospital Wednesday, and one was admitted. The symptoms included diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping.
These are similar to the symptoms of the confirmed cases of norovirus that affected 85 George Washington University students last week. Norovirus has not been confirmed among Howard University students. Cultures have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control for testing for the disease.
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take measures to prevent the spread of all viruses,including washing hands frequently and disinfecting surfaces. The University is increasing the cleaning of heavily used common areas to aid in this effort. Please use the hand sanitizers that are located in buildings across the campus to help prevent spread of disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus as well as other viruses are passed through direct, close contact with an infected person; eating food or drinking liquid contaminated with virus or by touching surfaces contaminated with virus and then placing hands or fingers in the mouth.
Other less common symptoms of norovirus infection include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and general sense of fatigue. These symptoms are often referred to as the "stomach flu." Unlike the influenza virus, however, gastrointestinal illness is not spread by sneezing, coughing or other airborne routes.
Additional information about norovirus has been posted on Campus Advisories and can be found on the web at DC Department of Health (http://dchealth.dc.gov/doh/cwp/view,a,1370,q,602626.asp) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Norovirus).
While symptoms can be uncomfortable, norovirus illness is usually not serious and most people get better in one to two days. There is no drug treatment or vaccine for norovirus. It can lead to severe dehydration and those experiencing symptoms are encouraged to increase their intake of fluids. Illness can be more serious in young children, the elderly and people with other underlying medical conditions.
Remember, prevention is the key. Take proper precautions to remain healthy.