Hamilton has confirmed the presence of norovirus on campus and has implemented a plan to address it. More than two dozen students have become sick with symptoms consistent with the virus.
In his initial notice to the campus Monday evening, Associate Dean of Students for Health and Safety Jeff Landry reported that an increased number of students were experiencing intestinal sickness and that the College had sent samples to a laboratory for testing. An update the next afternoon confirmed the presence of norovirus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed. This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.”
The virus can spread easily, Landry said. It can cause severe pain and discomfort, but most people recover in a few days. He said students should not attend class while exhibiting any symptoms for the virus and for two days after the last symptom is present. Employees who exhibit symptoms should not report to work. The CDC recommends people wash their hands frequently with warm soapy water and remain hydrated to help prevent transmission.
Facilities Management personnel began disinfecting residence hall bathrooms and common areas Wednesday morning and were providing disinfectant wipes effective for killing the virus to residence halls and offices throughout campus. Students and employees were instructed to use the wipes to disinfect primary contact points such as doorknobs, computer keyboards, desktops, armchairs, and any other non-porous surface.
In an update to the campus Wednesday morning, Landry said the college’s two dining halls, diner, and the on-campus pub would be closed on a rotating basis for special cleaning.
Part of the mitigation effort includes members of the College’s Facilities Management team and an outside contractor conducting a concentrated cleaning effort for all public spaces, including classrooms, lounges, study rooms, and similar spaces. Cleaning will take place around scheduled events, but will require the early closing of Burke Library and the Blood Fitness Center. Other buildings in the process of being cleaned will be closed to ensure safety and efficient operation.
Cleaning is expected to take place throughout the night Wednesday into early Thursday morning. Efforts will be modified or increased as necessary.