Officials at MIT Medical are reporting an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis on campus and reminding everyone in the community to be vigilant about hygiene practices, particularly hand-washing. According to Associate Medical Director Howard Heller, M.D., MIT Medical saw two patients with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea at the beginning of the week and 16 during the day on Wednesday. MIT-EMS responded to a few more cases overnight, and as of noon on Thursday, a small number of additional patients with similar symptoms had come into Urgent Care. Heller notes that cases do not appear to be linked to any specific dorm or dining hall.
"This may or may not be norovirus," Heller says. Norovirus, which causes a severe and acute form of gastroenteritis, can spread quickly, especially in dense, semi-closed communities. "But whether it’s norovirus or not," Heller continues, "our response should be the same—paying extra attention to practicing good hygiene. Frequent and consistent hand-washing is the best way to prevent the spread of this type of virus."
MIT Medical is monitoring the situation closely, adds MIT Medical’s Director of Student Health Shawn Ferullo, M.D. "We're continuing to look at these cases to see if we can discern any patterns, and we are ready to take any additional precautions that prove necessary."