Norovirus cancels classes at WCSU

Classes were canceled at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury in response to about 100 students who report...

Posted: Apr 24, 2018 3:23 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2018 3:23 PM

Classes were canceled at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury in response to about 100 students who reportedly became ill with the norovirus.

WCSU officials confirmed what the illness was to Channel 3 on Monday.

"Apparently you feel like you're gonna die for a day or two and then you get over it," said Paul Steinmetz, WCSU spokesperson. "There's a lot of vomiting and diarrhea."

Officials are trying to decide whether or not classes will remain canceled through Tuesday.

"One of the things we are looking at is making sure that bathrooms are clean because there can be splatter and if you touch it inadvertently, it doesn't have to look like anything," Steinmetz said. "It can look like a clean surface but [with] virus on it so it has to be cleaned."

The virus is highly contagious and is sometimes found on cruise ships.

"[Department of Public Health's] Epidemiology and Food Protection Programs, along with the State Laboratory, are coordinating with officials at WCSU, the Danbury Health Department and Danbury Hospital to investigate an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness at WCSU that has now been confirmed through laboratory tests to be norovirus," said Maura Downes, director of communications, CT DPH. "The illnesses were first reported on Friday afternoon, but some of the ill patients became sick as early as Tuesday, April 17. We have advised WCSU on proper cleaning procedures for norovirus and will continue to investigate and coordinate with officials in Danbury and at WCSU."

Health officials were on the campus Monday to inspect and interview students who were sick.

"I'm not scared," said Gabriel Vargas, a WCSU junior. "I've gotten the flu before and it sucks but I mean I feel like you'll probably survive it. So I'm not worried, but i hope it don't get sick."

School officials initially ruled out the possibility of E. coli. Officials said they did not served romaine lettuce in any cafeteria. The lettuce was the cause of an E. coli outbreak in a number of states.

In an abundance of caution, they opted to cancel classes on Monday to sanitize the buildings.

The school also told students that if they experience vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain or signs of dehydration, there are some tips they should follow:

Use good hygiene.

Don't share food, drinks, cups or utensils.

Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.

Frequently clean surfaces in living spaces with bleach wipes.

"In order to avoid becoming ill with norovirus or spreading the virus, students and staff should practice frequent handwashing with soap and water." Downes said. "They should also avoid preparing food for others, working in a day care center, health care facility or food service establishment if having gastrointestinal symptoms – vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, low grade fever – and seek medical attention if those symptoms become severe."

If students become dehydrated, they're advised to head to the emergency room.

The school told students that if possible, they should head home for the day to limit the potential spread of the illness to others. It also advised students to drink plenty of fluids.

WCSU's president sent a letter to students and staff that said the school recognized that the closure was an inconvenience this late in the school year.

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