Pitt-Johnstown services reopen after several fall ill

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The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown will resume normal operations, including dining services, today after students were reportedly sickened Friday and over the weekend with what is suspected to be norovirus.

The school says "several" students started complaining Friday of gastrointestinal illness symptoms, including fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

All campus social events, a bus trip to Baltimore, shuttle service and other activities likely to spread the highly contagious virus were suspended.

The university said on its website it disinfected all academic buildings, with a focus on bathrooms, with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-recommended cleaning product. Food service was suspended, all previously opened or prepared food was discarded, and dining and cooking areas were disinfected, the university said.

"We have reviewed our actions with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and we have received their approval to reopen dining facilities," the university said. "We also reviewed our actions with the University of Pittsburgh Department of Environmental Health and Safety. We are confident that we have taken all necessary steps to protect the campus as best we can at this time."

Robert Knipple, the university's executive director of community relations, could not say Sunday night how many students were sickened.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus, found in the stool and vomit of infected people, is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis and food-borne outbreaks in the United States. Spread by contact with infected people, ingesting contaminated food or drink, or touching contaminated surfaces, it causes 19 million to 21 million illnesses and contributes to 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths a year.


Robert Zullo: rzullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3909. Twitter: @rczullo. First Published March 30, 2014 8:36 PM

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