N.J. Colleges Step Up Flu Prevention Efforts

Ann McClure's picture
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The smell of antiseptic is in the air on college campuses across the state as school officials begin the spring semester by wiping down door handles, disinfecting light switches and sanitizing computer labs in an attempt to keep flu and other contagious germs from spreading.

At least one school — Princeton University — is reporting an outbreak of norovirus, the fast-spreading illness that causes vomiting and diarrhea. As of yesterday morning, 67 students with symptoms of the highly contagious illness had been treated at the campus health center, said Martin Mbugua, Princeton’s spokesman.

“Samples tested by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services were found positive for norovirus, which is a common virus that causes gastroenteritis,” Mbugua said. “Upon receiving the results on Friday, Jan. 18, the university sent a health advisory to members of the university community urging them to take steps to prevent the further spread of illness.”

Norovirus, which is often associated with outbreaks on cruise ships, has no vaccine. At Princeton, students began reporting to the health center with symptoms Jan. 6, and the virus quickly spread. Campus officials have been trying to curb the outbreak by stepping up efforts to disinfect elevator buttons, door knobs, light switches and other high-contact surfaces, Mbugua said.

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