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Up to 50 Chapman University students sickened in norovirus outbreak, school says

Norovirus outbreak at Chapman University

A norovirus outbreak on the Chapman University campus in Orange, shown in 2013, sickened as many as 50 students.

(Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

A norovirus outbreak that may have sickened as many as 50 students at Chapman University in Orange appears to be slowing down, school officials said Wednesday.

The gastrointestinal illness was first reported on Dec. 2 by several students and grew rapidly as others fell ill. Eight of the 50 reported cases were confirmed to be norovirus, while the number of reports have since been decreasing, university spokeswoman Mary Platt said.

“This can be difficult to eradicate,” she said.

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The Orange County Health Care Agency is investigating the cause of the outbreak. One source could be the school’s only cafeteria, the agency said. But determining a source of any outbreak on a college campus can be difficult because there are numerous ways the infection can be passed.

The cafeteria was closed and disinfected to hospital standards, Platt said. The campus was also swept down, and the bathrooms and common areas were thoroughly cleaned.

“It could be food-borne,” she said. “We just don’t know. This type of thing could have come from anywhere.”

Norovirus is contagious organism that can be spread through contaminated food or water and human interaction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infection causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Symptoms include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

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