Reported Cases of Gastroenteritis ("stomach flu") Virus and Precautions

To: UCSC Student Community

From: Drew Malloy, MD Medical Director Student Health Center

I write out of concern for your well being and to advise you that there have been several cases of gastroenteritis ("stomach flu") reported on campus during this past week. I hope to enlist your assistance in following good hygiene strategies to minimize any possible spread of this illness.

The cause is not completely known at this time. Health Center Staff and campus Environmental Health and Safety officials are working with the County Health Department to identify any possible common cause. Meanwhile, the University has instituted standard protocols to minimize the risk to community members.

The symptoms of illness usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly. Typically the illness is brief, with symptoms lasting only about 1 or 2 days. We suspect this illness is caused by a virus. Viruses can live outside of the body and be passed by touching objects, surfaces, or utensils that have been infected by someone who was ill. While these viruses are not life threatening they can cause significant gastrointestinal issues (vomiting and diarrhea) and dehydration, especially if the person is unable to drink enough liquids to replace liquids lost.

Out of concern for our entire community, it is critical that all of us work to avoid spreading the illness. The most important thing you can do is to wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer liquid. Do this frequently throughout the day and especially after being in the bathroom. Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands prior to eating. Refrain from sharing food and beverage containers with another person. When eating in the campus Dining Halls, wash your hands prior to entering the dining hall and do not touch food directly. Avoid the self-serve sections of the dining halls. If you have been sick with vomiting and diarrhea, keep yourself isolated until you are without symptoms for 48 hours.

It is important that the campus be informed of any students who become ill. On-campus students are urged to report any illness of this type to a member of the residence life staff (RA or CRE).

Summary of recommendations:

- Wash your hands frequently with hand sanitizer or soap and water for 20 seconds prior to eating

- Report any accidents to custodial services for prompt and appropriate clean up

- Stay home and rest. Isolate yourself until you are free of symptoms for 48 hours.

- The "Buddy Meal" program is designed to provide meals to sick meal plan holders who are unable to leave their residences for health reasons. Students picking up a meal for someone who is ill will need their own ID card as well as the ill student's ID card.

- People experiencing lightheadedness, fainting, fever, bleeding, severe abdominal pain should seek medical evaluation with their primary care provider Students may call the Student Health Center Nurse advice line a 459-2591 Monday through Friday during the day. For evenings and weekends, the nurse advice line is 1-800-977-0027.

- Dietary information for gastroenteritis is linked below.

I appreciate your assistance in following these recommendations. Your attention to good hygiene is critical in order to help maintain the health of our campus community.