Norwalk virus on tour of campus

Queen’s is monitoring levels of illness, environmental health and safety director says

The norovirus—or Norwalk virus—is on campus for its yearly visit.

The virus, sometimes referred to as “stomach flu” is a nasty, short-term illness, Director of Environmental Health and Safety Dan Langham said, adding that it usually lasts one to two days.

“The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick,” he said. “The symptoms of norovirus usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and some stomach cramping.” The virus is expected at this time every year, Langham said.

“Norovirus typically circulates on campus and in the Kingston community at this time of year,” he said, adding that unlike the H1N1 virus, he thinks students shouldn’t worry about Norwalk.

“The level of illness within the faculty, staff and student population is consistent with community levels,” he said. “We’re not concerned at this point. However, we’re continuing to monitor levels of illness on campus, particularly in residence where the close living quarters can result in a quick spread of the virus.”

The virus is highly contagious, Langham said, adding that a sick person usually recovers within 24 to 60 hours of catching the bug.

“As with most viruses, the best way to prevent infection is by frequently hand-washing with soap and water, or the use of hand sanitizer wipes and alcohol-based hand cleansers,” he said.

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