By Shelby Brown —

Students returning to close living and dining quarters face the threat of illness in the prime of winter.

“Usually Norovirus is a big outbreak. We haven’t had an outbreak on campus,” Executive Director of Campus Health Services Phillip Bressoud said. “It gets a lot of press when you get a big outbreak. Two to three thousand people can get sick on cruise ships and at universities.”

Norovirus is more commonly known as the stomach bug. It can be transmitted year round, but is most contagious in the winter.

Norovirus is transmitted through fecal matter or vomit on your hands.

Norovirus lingers on hard surfaces, like kitchen or bathroom counters for weeks. It can remain present in contaminated clothes or linens for twelve days. Norovirus can also survive in contaminated water for years.

Many individuals get sick after taking care of a family member of friend who has been infected with Norovirus.

After having Norovirus, a person can still be contagious even if the symptoms are gone. Bressoud encourages those who have been sick to stay home for two extra days.

“There are lots of strains so you can get it over and over again. Because you’ve had it once, doesn’t mean you’re immune or you won’t get it again.” Bressoud said.

Those taking care of infected individuals should employ extreme caution while cleaning up stool or vomit.

Bressoud said bleach solutions work best to kill the virus.

Eating facilities and living together are what he finds to be a big concern.

“Keep your eyes and ears open,” he said.

The Center for Disease Control offers tips and more information about Norovirus on their website:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water.
  • Try not to touch your mouth and nose or bite your nails.
  • Clean surfaces (i.e. bathroom and kitchen) with bleach cleaners
  • Take care to wipe frequently touched items like remote controls and light switches.
  • Wash clothes and sheets that have come into contact with the infected person with bleach cleaners.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Boil seafood to kill any bacteria before eating.