Norovirus Returning To Normal Trends

Published 2:45 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2015

FARMVILLE — For a community that’s had all the norovirus it can stomach, the good news is the highly contagious gastrointestinal illness seems to have had its fill.

At least in terms of a significant breakout.

And there is no bad news.

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All signs point back to normal following an outbreak at Hampden-Sydney College that at one point had officials there estimating nearly one-third of its 1,050 students were affected.

The word “norovirus” has disappeared from the college’s online homepage but deeper in the website six new student cases were reported over the weekend, along with one faculty and one staff member. There were no additional updates Sunday, or Monday, by mid-afternoon, a case of no news being good news.

H-SC successfully resumed classes last Wednesday.

The situation at Longwood University is also business as usual.

On Monday, the university reported there were approximately seven new norovirus-like cases over the weekend. “According to the Virginia Department of Health, this is well within the expected and usual range for this region of Virginia at this time of year,” LU’s Director of Communications & Media Relations, Matthew McWilliams, told The Herald.

The illness, furthermore, has not gained traction in the wider community. Isolated cases have not spread beyond immediate friends or family members.

“The data is indicating that we are returning to what we consider very normal trends for this time of year, in terms of gastrointestinal distress,” Piedmont Health District Health Director, Dr. Alexander P. Samuel, confirmed to The Herald on Monday.

Updates from affected institutions, he said, show that “trends are heading in the positive direction.

“I think the most important thing is we’ve averted any sort of food-borne outbreak,” Dr. Samuel continued, “which there’s potential for.”

Credit goes to individuals and those affected institutions for responding seriously to health department directives, he noted.
“It appears…those who’ve taken the preventive measures seriously seem to have certainly helped out in preventing person-to-person, as well as the food-borne, concerns that we had initially,” he said.

Great teamwork was shown in reining in the illness, according to Dr. Samuel. “It was a fantastic effort from multiple agencies involved,” he said.

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 noted. “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, Dr. Samuel advises, should stay home for a minimum of 48 hours after vomiting or diarrhea.