Overlooked Outbreak: Norovirus Infections at the University of Oregon

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Norovirus infections on University of Oregon Campus

Given the massive number of recent recalls due to concerns regarding foods contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes – a foodborne bacteria that can cause potentially fatal illness in the elderly, young children, and people with immune systems that are otherwise already compromised – it would be easy to overlook an outbreak of an illness that is very rarely fatal, which is exactly what we’ve done with the outbreak of norovirus infections at the University of Oregon.

“Over the past week and a half,” reports Oregon newspaper the Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon “has taken extensive sanitary precautions in an effort to contain the [ongoing] norovirus outbreak.”

Lowering the Risk of Norovirus Infections Across UO Campus

Richard Brunader, University of Oregon Health Center medical director, has said that the best option to lower the general risk of norovirus infections is to “start with sanitizing crowded areas,” the Daily Emerald report recounts.

According to Brunader, “what we’re doing is trying to identify those students that we think are at risk and try to identify where they live and identify high traffic areas like the EMU, the Rec Center, places where we think that have high propensity of student contact and get those regularly disinfected.”

Preventing Spread at the UO Health Center

Brunader said that the Center had changed some of its procedures in an attempt to contain the norovirus infections, especially when infected students come to seek treatment at the Health Center itself.

In essence, what the Health Center is trying to do with people that they “think [have Norovirus] is to get them in as fast as we can, opposed to them going to the lab, bring the lab to them, have the pharmacy come to them, check-out in the room,” said Brunader. “We’re trying to isolate them as best we can.”

Source Identification

Meanwhile, identifying the source of the norovirus infections may prove incredibly difficult.

According to Jason Davis, Lane County Health and Human Services public information officer, identifying the source of the outbreak is an incredibly difficult task due to the different information provided to the university and department by outbreak cases.

“Every time you look at 30 people, and you try to get an exact account of where they were and when, it’s almost impossible,” said Davis. “Most of us have relatively bad short term memories.”

If you or a family member have been affected by food poisoning, please fill out our case evaluation form or call us toll-free at 1-888-335-4901. One of our attorneys will contact you to discuss your case at no cost to you.

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