University of North Carolina hit with norovirus outbreak

Health officials in Orange County, North Carolina, recently confirmed an outbreak of norovirus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to a county health department statement.

According to the statement, between February 27 and March 1, approximately 85 students at the school sought medical care for vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and/or fever. The campus health service sent out an electronic survey to the students in an attempt to find a possible common exposure. The surveys found no common source in connection to the outbreak, the Associated Press reports.

The Orange County Health Department sent five stool samples to the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health to confirm the presence of norovirus. The samples came back negative for shiga-toxin producing E. coli, campylobacter, shigella and salmonella.

On Monday, campus health services reported seeing five students for gastrointestinal problems, though the number is considered to be normal for this time of year and is not necessarily related to the outbreak.

UNC's campus dining and campus housing departments are using additional disinfecting measures meant to specifically eliminate norovirus in facilities where students were ill.

Individuals on campus are urged to wash their hands and clean surfaces that are commonly touched with bleach-based cleaning supplies. Handlers of food should not work in food service until they are symptom-free for 72 hours, according to the Associated Press.