Outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis associated with Norwalk-like viruses in campus settings.
Norwalk-like viruses (NLVs) are transmitted by fecally contaminated food, water, fomites, and person-to-person contact. They are a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis epidemics in industrialized countries. NLV outbreaks are characterized by a 12- to 48-hour incubation period; nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea for 24 to 72 hours; and high secondary attack rates. NLV infections spread rapidly on college and university campuses because of close living quarters, shared bathrooms and common rooms, many food handlers, popular self-service salad bars in dining halls, and person-to-person contact through sports and recreational activities. The illness is generally mild and self-limited but an outbreak can strain the resources of campus health services and cause high absenteeism among both students and staff. Treatment is primarily through antiemetic medication and oral rehydration. Prevention and control of NLV outbreaks rests on promoting hand washing; enforcement of strict hygiene in all food preparation areas; and prompt, rigorous cleaning of potentially contaminated areas where someone has been ill.
Moe, CL; Christmas, WA; Echols, LJ; Miller, SE
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