Stomach virus infects more than 60 UVM students

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea were just some of the symptoms that over 60 UVM students were suddenly afflicted with this past week.The Vt. Dept. of Health diagnosed these symptoms as acute viral gastrointestinal disease three days after the beginning of the outbreak. They were called in to survey and look for patterns among all of the infected students. Gastroenteritis is an infection caused by a variety of viruses that result in an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, leading to vomiting or diarrhea. Viral gastroenteritis is very contagious, and can be spread through close contact with infected people, such as sharing food. “The current patterns are most consistent with person-to-person spread,” Jon Porter, director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing, said. “This is known to happen when people are living closely together.”However, despite the claims that the virus is simply being passed from student to student, patterns from those infected are beginning to point toward an on-campus dining location, the University Marché. Anton Swain-Gil, a freshman who was hit by the virus early this week, reported eating at the Marché. “When I was in the ER, there were at least 10 other kids there who were just as sick as I was – it was crazy and scary,” Swain-Gil said, “When I finally talked to a few of them, we all had the Marché in common.”According to the last of the three e-mails sent out by Porter to the student body, the University Marché has been cited as a possible site of initial exposure, yet “the Health Department has emphasized that they cannot conclude from the information they gathered that any particular meal or food item is responsible for this illness.” In addition, all dining services on campus have passed recent health inspections, including the Marché.Still, some students are not convinced. “It is kind of scary,” said Brittney Heeren, a freshman and friend of some who had been infected. “I don’t know how comfortable I am going to feel next time I want to eat at the Marché.”Despite the initially large numbers of students infected, cases are going down and students are improving, Porter said.”It is really miserable for the students in the middle of it,” Porter said, “It passes relatively quickly and our nurses have been on the phones giving students guidance for what to do so that they don’t have to come in.”