Stomach Flu Epidemic At UVA

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

May 3, 2005

100 University of Virginia students, and counting, have come to the student health center since late last week suffering from the stomach flu.

"We're getting a lot of phone calls, not everyone is coming in," said Karen Hancher, the head nurse at the student health center.

"We're guessing there are probably two or three people not coming in for every one that does come in," said Dr. Joe Chance, the Director of general medicine at UVA.

Dr. Chance says when people use the restroom and don't wash their hands, a group of viruses called noroviruses can spread from person to person causing this very highly contagious stomach flu to pass around some nasty symptoms. He explained that they include: "nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and about half the people have a fever."

Although the effects of the illness are not pleasant, Dr. Chance said they usually subside within three days. "If the student can keep down oral liquids with some anti-nausea medicine then that is the treatment. If they are not able to then we give them intravenous fluids," said Dr. Chance.

"It's very contagious and our students live in close proximity [to each other]," said Hancher. Five students came here to the student health center for treatment Tuesday, May 3rd, and Dr. Chance said he expects that number to decline.

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