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April 6, 2009

Reports of norovirus symptoms dwindle; Shaw Hall dining room re-opens

EAST LANSING, Mich. — All Michigan State University students treated last week at Sparrow Hospital for norovirus symptoms have been released, and the number of students reporting stomach distress has returned to what would normally be seen this time of year.

Officials from the Ingham County Health Department continue to investigate the outbreak, reviewing data and surveying students. Norovirus, a common and contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal problems, is spread from person to person. As a precautionary measure, MSU staff cleaned and disinfected all areas of campus where sick students were reported.

The Shaw Hall dining room, which was closed April 1, has re-opened. Norovirus does not generally originate from contaminated food, but since some of the ill students had been in the dining hall, cleaning staff are taking precautionary steps to disinfect the area. All other campus dining rooms remained open.

Overall, about 30 MSU students were treated at Sparrow Hospital. All of them had been released by April 3. Medical professionals at Olin Student Health Center also fielded calls from sick students, who reported symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Gastrointestinal illnesses generally last a day or two, and for most people do not affect long-term health, University Physician Beth Alexander said. People who have symptoms should contact Olin at (517) 353-5557.


Alexander added that with usual attention to hygiene, returning to the residence halls is safe. Students, faculty and staff are urged to wash their hands with warm soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds each time. Hands should be washed frequently. Students also are urged to not share personal items such as toothbrushes or eating utensils. Also, students who do become ill and live in a residence hall should let housing staff know.



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