A Connecticut university has shut down for the day after about 100 students fell sick in a "viral-like" outbreak since Thursday, and state health officials believe norovirus is behind the dozens of illnesses.
“DPH’s Epidemiology and Food Protection Programs, along with the State Laboratory, are coordinating with officials at WCSU, the Danbury Health Department and Danbury Hospital to investigate an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness at WCSU that has now been confirmed through laboratory tests to be Norovirus,” the Department of Public Health said in a statement Monday.
Students complained of symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea. State officials said the illnesses were first reported on Friday afternoon, but some of the ill patients became sick as early as Tuesday, April 17.
Health officials say they advised the school to have staff and students frequently wash hands with soap and water and avoid preparing food for others if having gastrointestinal symptoms. Anyone with severe symptoms should immediately seek medical attention. Students who vomit in their dorms should call staff.
Western Connecticut State University President John Clark said in an emailed statement late Sunday the school would be closed in response to the outbreak.
"Although we are aware of a limited number of affected student, based on our discussions with the the Connecticut Department of Health, the Danbury Department of Health, Danbury Hospital and the WCSU Director of Health Services, we have decided this is the best and most conservative course of action to protect our university community from infection and spread of disease," Clark wrote in an emailed statement.
Monday's closing will give staff time to consult with state and city health officials to determine what the next steps will be and allow maintenance crews to continue to sanitize all areas of the campus.
"While the latest data we have about the disease is encouraging, we want to make doubly sure that the university is safe and secure for all before re-opening," Clark said.