Health Dept. Confirms Norovirus At H-SC

Published 2:57 pm Friday, January 30, 2015

HAMPDEN-SYDNEY — The State Health Department has confirmed that the gastrointestinal illness plaguing Hampden-Sydney College is the highly contagious Norovirus.

Several hundred H-SC students have been affected and the campus shutdown began Thursday.

H-SC spokesman, Tommy Shomo, told The Herald that afternoon “we’ve had quite a siege out here. We’re guessing we’ve got about 300 kids sick.”

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The College, meanwhile, extended the suspension of classes until Wednesday to undertake “environmental cleaning of all buildings” and perform additional steps “to assure a healthy environment,” H-SC’s website states.

No classes, no athletic events or practices, and no extracurricular or fraternity social events will resume until February 4, though administrative departments were scheduled to return to normal hours on Tuesday.

According to H-SC, the majority of its 1,050 students returned home after classes were canceled Thursday afternoon.

Norovirus Confirmed

“We actually just got some results back,” Dr. Alexander P. Samuel, Health Director of the Piedmont Health District, told The Herald Friday afternoon. “It is Norovirus, which really fits the fingerprints that we’ve seen so far—very quick spreading, fast in terms of making people sick and the types of (symptom) patterns as well.”

Vomiting and diarrhea.

Dr. Samuel said there have been no indications “so far” of the virus spreading off campus.

“There is always the possibility of individual person-to-person contact, and that will more than likely happen, but those usually don’t turn into larger issues,” Dr. Samuel said.

The health department is notifying all large food service facilities, such as Longwood University and area schools, he said, so that precautions can be taken against Norovirus spreading through an infected food service worker.

On Monday, Longwood University’s website stated “so far we have seen only a handful of cases on campus.”

Health Tips

To minimize the risk of catching Norovirus it is recommended washing your hands with soap and water.

“Norovirus is resistant to hand sanitizers,” Dr. Samuel said. “Soap and water, thoroughly wash for 20 seconds…several times over the course of the day.” Not just after using the bathroom and before meals.

Anyone with Norovirus symptoms should remain away from others for a minimum of 24 hours after their last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Symptomatic food handlers, the Dr. Samual advises, should stay home for a minimum of 48 hours after vomiting or diarrhea.