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Published On: Sat, Dec 7th, 2013

MIT outbreak: ‘This may or may not be norovirus’ says Medical Director

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is reporting an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis, which is manifested with symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, according to officials at MIT Medical this week.

Norovirus Image/CDC

Norovirus Image/CDC

This is prompting medical officials at the university to remind the university community  to be vigilant about hygiene practices, particularly hand-washing.

At least 18 people have presented with the symptoms of the yet unknown gastrointestinal illness; however, several more are expected based on recent clinic visits.

Although the exact etiological agent has identified and the exact source of the outbreak has not been pinpointed, Associate Medical Director Howard Heller of MIT Medical says, “This may or may not be norovirus,” Heller says.

“But whether it’s norovirus or not,” Heller continues, “our response should be the same — paying extra attention to practicing good hygiene. Frequent and consistent hand-washing is the best way to prevent the spread of this type of virus.”

In addition, Heller notes that cases do not appear to be linked to any specific dorm or dining hall. The situation continues to be monitored.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC),  norovirus is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infectedperson, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.

Anyone can be infected with norovirus and get sick. Also, you can have norovirus illness many times in your life. Norovirus illness can be serious, especially for young children and older adults.

Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States. Each year, it causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths. Norovirus is also the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States.

Although norovirus goes by many nicknames, ”food poisoning” or “stomach flu” for example, Norovirus illness is not related to the flu (influenza), which is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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