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Viral outbreak not linked to food poisoning

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A sign posted outside Health Services Nov. 12 (Photo By Aimee Chiavaroli)

A sign posted outside Health Services Nov. 12 (Photo By Aimee Chiavaroli)

By Liam Dacko

Despite rumors to the contrary, the pattern of gastrointestinal illness seen on campus over the past two days is not related to food poisoning, according to Director of Communications and Media Relations Martin McGovern.

“There is no indication that there was food poisoning. Viral gastrointestinal illness is very common and spreads rapidly where people are in very close contact with each other,” McGovern said in an email to The Summit.

Students suffering from this illness, which has a 24 to 72 hour life cycle, are experiencing a variety of symptoms, including abrupt onset of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, McGovern said.

Health officials have yet to determine a cause for the virus, which has “no common theme,” McGovern said.

“We are working with state health officials to identify its source,” he said.

The College’s response to this outbreak includes “the direct care of our students, as well as advice on prevention and recuperation measures,” McGovern said.

Over the past two days, Health Services has treated 50 students.

“Today there is a noticeable dip in the number of students visiting or contacting Health Services,” McGovern said.

At the time of publication, 20 students had been transported to local hospitals Nov. 13.

Stonehill officials have collaborated with Compass Medical, a local urgent care facility, and Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton to transport students.

“They both have been wonderful in treating our students who may require additional care,” McGovern said in a press release.

Medical response teams parked outside of Health Services in anticipation of having to transport sick students to the hospital (Photo By: Aimee Chiavaroli)

Medical response teams parked outside of Health Services in anticipation of having to transport sick students to the hospital (Photo By: Aimee Chiavaroli)

Additionally, the College Facilities staff has “enhanced their cleaning across campus, with a specific focus on any affected areas and shared common spaces,” according to an email sent by McGovern.

Although the virus has affected a large number of students, the College will not be closing.

“No athletic events have been cancelled and that schedule is business as usual. The College has not cancelled classes. However, in some instances, individual professors have offered students online or video classes,” McGovern said.

In a Community Update sent via email Nov. 13, Director of Health Services Maria Sullivan cautioned the community to be mindful of hygiene in the wake of the virus.

“We cannot stress it enough, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face or mouth. Please note that the best approach is to wash your hands vigorously with warm water and soap. Also over the weekend, we suggest that you avoid being in big group gatherings as the virus is easily transmitted in such crowded environments.” Sullivan said.

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