The Los Angeles County Health Department confirmed that gastrointestinal virus had been making USC students sick. The university reported a total of 103 students affected by the illness and it can easily spread from one person to another. There was an increased number of cases among students living in residence halls on October 27.
An employee USC Engemann Student Health Center said, "I know that one week we had 40 come in. It was the first week that it started. I think it started in a couple of the dormitories and spreads like wildfire. They've got to learn to wash their hands."
Norovirus, or winter vomiting disease, is a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus that causes stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptons typically develop 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus, but it usually subsides after 48 hours.
This is not the first time that first time that the virus struck the student body. In 2008, hundreds of cases have been reported and, last year in Los Angeles, a number of outbreaks have been reported as well.
Students described the outbreak as going through 24-48 hours of hell. Another student said, 'My whole floor pretty much got it and it destroyed our bathroom.' In an effort to remedy the situation, the campus administration is making students use hand sanitizer. A student said, 'They change all the dining halls. We can't serve ourselves any more.'
The health center said, though, that there are fewer cases now after the university stepped up sanitation efforts and staff training. University officials took "an intensified cleaning of our residence halls and dining venues and staff training on additional precautionary measures."
USC students are encouraged to wash their hands often, especially after using the restroom and rinse all fruit and vegetables. They should also disinfect computer keyboards or phones and to avoid contact and sharing food with those infected. Those who are affected by the illness have been urged to avoid going to class until they were cleared of any symptoms for at least 24 hours.