Health and Wellness Update- Norovirus
Chicagoland has been blessed with a very mild winter this year. A wonderful break from our last two winters. Winter brings with it some seasonal diseases that the Wheaton College community needs to be fully aware of and prepared for. Please see the postings regarding seasonal influenza. DuPage County flu activity has been low at this time. Another winter disease is gastroenteritis, which is mostly likely due to a contagious virus called the norovirus. The norovirus is characterized by moderate to severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms usually begin 1-2 days after exposure and last about 24-48 hours. Transmission is person-to-person. The virus is extremely contagious and is passed on by improper hygiene or aerosol from vomiting. Most people recover quickly; however, the very young, old or immune suppressed are at increased risk of complications. Prevention is the best way to avoid this illness. Here are some tips:
- Wash your hands. Thorough hand-washing, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper, can reduce the risk of transmission.
- Avoid contaminated food and water. Throw out any food that may have been prepared by someone who was sick.
- Disinfect virus-contaminated areas. Use a chlorine bleach solution. Where possible, allow bleach to stay on surfaces longer than 10 minutes.
- Stay home from work. This is especially important if you work in a food-handling job. You may be contagious as long as three days after your symptoms end. Also, if you have a job with older or younger individuals, do not work until you are better.
Student Health Services is ready to assess and treat students as needed. It is important to prevent this virus from spreading in a residential campus. The attached PDF explains more about the norovirus and treatment.