Norovirus Strikes Over 150 University of Michigan Students

A spokeswoman for the University of Michigan confirmed that the number of norovirus cases on campus could have reached 150 as of last Friday. The University initially reported that approximately 100 students had sought treatment.

150 “does not reflect the actual extent” of the outbreak

Chief Health Officer of the University, Dr. Robert Winfield, said the number of cases may exceed the University’s records. Winifield further said that the number of reported cases is an inaccurate measure of the severity of the outbreak: the “number does not reflect the actual extent of the illness, as students are generally following our advice to self-isolate in their rooms.”

Winfield also acknowledged that the school’s approach makes determining the number of cases and knowing if the outbreak is continuing to get worse impossible.

“Now that the word is out, which is ‘don’t come in unless you need to,’ we really have no good way of grasping the total number.” Winfield continued, saying that “from that, we can say it is continuing, but we don’t know whether it’s continuing up, flattening out or starting to drop down, and we won’t be able to find that out from these numbers.”

At least one student has been hospitalized for dehydration, according to University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen.

Searching for the source

Though the source of the outbreak has remained elusive, the geographic origins are clear: the outbreak began in the school’s South Quad and West Quad university housing. It appears to be something “in common with South Quad and West Quad dining services, Winfield said. Though all of the food that was available that Monday in South Quad had been removed, it was kept for use in identifying the source of the outbreak.

Officials from the U-M Health System, the University Health Service, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Washtenaw County Public Health Department are continuing their investigation to determine the source of the outbreak.

Students frustrated with late warning

A number of students were concerned and frustrated with the lack of communication from the University regarding the ongoing outbreak, with one remarking that he “really would have liked a notification e-mail earlier than two days after people started throwing up everywhere.”

Many students got word of the outbreak via the social media site Yik Yak. Others were told by friends, as information and misinformation spread by word of mouth.

About Norovirus

The symptoms of norovirus are fairly consistent from outbreak to outbreak. In this case, symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and fever. The virus is highly contagious and easily spread from person-to-person. The most severe outbreaks of norovirus usually occur with closed environments, such as cruise ships, prisons, schools and hospitals.

Roughly 19 to 21 million cases of the norovirus are reported in the United States each year. On an annual basis, 570 to 800 of these cases result in death.

For information about the University of Michigan norovirus outbreak or any other food poisoning outbreaks, call the lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates 1-888-335-4901.