An outbreak of Norovirus in Rutland County has Castleton University taking precautions for their students.
Christine Swarm, a registered nurse at Castleton Family Health Center said she has seen a handful of cases of the Norovirus in the past month. She said most of the cases involved college-age students.
Huden Dining Hall is taking precautions to prevent any spread of the Norovirus outbreak, said General Manager Rob Macfarlane. Macfarlane said after an outbreak in years past, they changed their previous precautionary measures to improve defenses against the virus.
He said although there has not been a case of the Norovirus within the dining hall, he and his staff are taking extra precautions
“We are wiping our utensils every 15 minutes and we are actually pulling them out and swapping them every 30 minutes and washing them so that every 15 minutes you are getting a clean utensil,” he said.
Students seemed impressed with the effort.
“I feel that the precautions were a good decision…I felt comfortable eating there without getting sick,” said Jacob Roth
Macfarlane says that with 1,600 to 1,700 people a day going in and out of the dining hall, he does not want the virus to get spread around campus.
Macfarlane says one troubling issue they do see in the dining hall is people, specifically at the dessert counter, not using tongs. He said people go straight for the food, contaminate the food for the next person and then when they are leaving the dining hall, contaminate the door handles allowing it to potentially spread outside of the dining hall.
Macfarlane says the only way to kill Norovirus is with bleach or a special sanitizer for utensils.
Norovirus is spread by human contact on things such as door handles, according to Swarm. She said that the best way to stay protected against the Norovirus is to wash your hands.
Swarm says that a person is contagious 24 hours before showing symptoms of the virus. These symptoms include abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, she said.
Because this is a virus, Swarm said that they treat the symptoms that you are present with. A main concern for someone with diarrhea is dehydration, in which case the patient is going to be given fluids to prevent it from becoming an issue, she said.
Swarm said the virus can cause from two to three days of sickness and can get to the point that the patient needs to be hospitalized.
“We are going to keep precautions until the snow is gone outside and we can open up some windows in here,” Macfarlane said when asked about how long the dining hall will continue the extra precautions.