Virus on Campus
By Jacqueline Favaloro
Approximately 86 C.W. Post residential and commuter students reported symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea as of last Thursday January 20. William Milford, Director of Student Health and Counseling informed the Pioneer that the virus is similar to other cases occurring in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and is not a food-borne illness. The incubation period for this illness is one to four days, and the symptoms last for about 24-48 hours.
Senior Marshall Rapson was one of the several students who were taken to the hospital last week. Rapson began feeling sick on Wednesday, January 19 at about 8:00 p.m. He was rushed to Glen Cove hospital at about 1:30 a.m. and was released at about 10:00 a.m. While he was at the hospital, Rapson was hooked up to I.V. and given anti-nausea pills. Initially, Rapson thought he had eaten something bad at Winnick. When his roommate who ate the same thing showed no sign of illness, Rapson knew this was something more. The illness lasted from Wednesday through Saturday. “I could definitely think of other ways to spend my time,” said Rapson.
Senior Kristyn Horn also went to Glen Cove hospital last Wednesday night. “I was the fifteenth person, eight came after me,” said Horn. They provided a shuttle because there was so many of us that went to the hospital.” Her visit lasted from 5:30 a.m. to about 11:30 a.m. While there, Horn was given the same treatment as Rapson. “At first I thought it was the food,” Horn said. “But now I don’t even know, I guess it’s this virus.”
However, the fight to stay healthy on campus is not over. Students on campus are still showing symptoms of the virus. Sophomore Ulrika Berg was rushed to the hospital this Friday night with the same sickness. “It sucks, said Berg. “It’s the worst sickness I’ve ever experienced.”
According to the New York State Department of Health and as reported by the Glen Cove Hospital, the illness is thought to be a possible Norwalk-like virus. It is spread by exposure to infected people or contaminated food and water. The virus is passed in stool and vomit. Outbreaks have been linked to sick food handlers, contaminated shellfish, and water contaminated with sewage.
It is generally spread from person to person contact, but some medical reports suggest that the virus can spread through the air during vomiting. The most common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Those infected generally recover in one to two days. No specific treatment is available. Persons who become dehydrated might need to be rehydrated by taking liquids by mouth. Occasionally patients may need to be hospitalized to receive intravenous fluids.
Pat Urena, a parent of a student living at Post who has also been sick with similar symptoms is upset with the lack of information. “I think the fact that they’re not informing parents that the kids are getting sick and that there is an actual epidemic going on at the college is misleading,” said Urena. “Most of the information is coming from the media and not the school. A lot of these kids are commuter students and now their families’ health is being compromised because they’re coming home with the virus or whatever it is.”
According to Mary Ellen Laurain, Director of Communications for the Nassau County Department of Health, the NCDOH is doing a complete environmental investigation into the cause of these gastrointestinal symptoms. “We’ve been on campus conducting interviews,” said Laurain. “We’ve been working with both doctors and campus administrators.” The NCDOH will continue to contact various students and staff on campus to determine the source of the illness. The Nassau County Department of Health advises that it will take 10 to 14 days to complete their tests and identify the illness. The University will administer a confidential electronic survey to students, faculty and staff who reported having symptoms of the illness to assist the NCDOH in the determination of the possible cause of the illness. The Pioneer is unaware of any staff or faculty member who has gotten ill.
Since the onset of this illness, C.W. Post has expanded its student Health and Counseling Center hours during the weekend. The infirmary was open both Saturday, January 22 and Sunday, January 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The C.W. Post Emergency Medical Service was also available to transport students to nearby hospitals. The Facilities staff also continues to follow the Nassau Country Department of Health guidelines, which include the cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms, common areas, bathrooms, locker rooms, recreational equipment, and residence halls. For further updates, see the “Health Advisory” link on the C.W. Post Student Health and Counseling web site at www.liu.edu/CWPost/StudentLife/Services/SHCC.aspx.