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County: Stanford outbreak was likely norovirus

An outbreak of a gastrointestinal virus that sickened 62 students at a Stanford University dormitory is likely caused by norovirus, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department has found.

The original source of the outbreak was not determined, but norovirus is the likely cause of the illness, according to the Stanford Report.

Students living in the Florence Moore residential complex became ill between Oct. 29 and Nov. 5. All reported stomach flu-like symptoms, including vomiting, and some reported diarrhea. Seven students who became dehydrated went to Stanford Hospital, where they were treated and released, according to the report. The residential complex houses 453 undergraduate students in seven separate residences.

Norovirus is a highly contagious gastrointestinal illness that commonly causes outbreaks during autumn and winter months. It can quickly spread from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or from a contaminated surface, such as a door handle or food utensil. The virus often spreads rapidly in areas where there are many people in close proximity, such as on cruise ships, in hospitals, nursing homes or residence halls, the report states.

Stanford has an early reporting system at its residence halls, and students notified Stanford health officials immediately. The university enacted safeguards to limit the spread of the illness throughout the building and to other residential complexes.

The university had potentially contaminated areas thoroughly sanitized and educated students about how to prevent spread of illness. The complex's dining hall underwent a complete sanitizing, and all common areas and bathrooms in the complex were cleaned thoroughly and repeatedly, according to the report.

To prevent the spread of norovirus and other illnesses, infectious disease officials recommend that people wash their hands frequently with soap and water. More information is available at www.cdc.gov/norovirus/.

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