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Students Stricken with Stomach Ailment

At least a dozen have sought medical help


David Zamojski, assistant dean of students and director of Residence Life, is advising his team to tell students to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.

Six students who live in Warren Towers have been treated at Boston Medical Center this week for stomach pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. Another half dozen Warren residents are reportedly suffering from similar symptoms, as well as one student from West Campus.

Cheri LeBlanc, a staff physician at Student Health Services, has treated some of the students and says she is working with health officials from the city of Boston to learn if the illness is caused by a virus or bacteria. Health officials are collecting fluids for analysis, she says, and “looking for a common thread.”

“At this point we don’t know if this is caused by a common virus or by something else, like something the students ate,” LeBlanc says.

While some students were quite sick, the physician says, most went to the emergency room because the illness struck when Student Health Services was not open. She says reports of the illness started appearing during the last four days.

LeBlanc advises all students to wash their hands carefully and frequently with soap and water, particularly after using the restroom and before preparing food. If soap and water are not available, she says, Purell hand sanitizers are also effective.

She recommends that those suffering from symptoms, such as diarrhea, should drink water or Gatorade to prevent dehydration, sipping it slowly and methodically instead of gulping it down. She advises students with symptoms to call Student Health Services, at 617-353-3575, rather than walk in.

“All we can do at this point is offer what we call ‘supportive care,’” she says. “There really isn’t any medicine that will make this go away, so coming in to see us is going to be only so helpful.”

Diane Adamson (CAS’14), who lives in a brownstone on Bay State Road, says she has heard about several sick students. “People in C Tower have been getting sick,” she says. “It’s spreading up from the sixth floor. And there’s even a girl in my house who’s sick.”

Samantha Baum (CAS’14) has heard that the illness is a 24-hour bug. “People usually complain about not feeling well,” she says. “They end up getting 
really sick for about a day.”

Virginia Barney (CFA’14) says her English class, which normally has 25 students, had only half that number this week.

Staff from Facilities Management and Planning are cleaning floors in Warren Towers, where the illness was first reported, and David Zamojski, assistant dean of students and director of Residence Life, is advising his team to tell students to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.


7 Comments on Students Stricken with Stomach Ailment

  • Anonymous on 11.18.2010 at 5:41 am

    I know of someone who was vomiting/coughing up blood and called SHS for help/an appointment, and they told her to sleep on it. Not really sure calling Student Health Services would really do people that much good.

  • Brandon Syms on 11.18.2010 at 9:36 am

    Any other Precautions?

    Are there any other precautions we should take into consideration as to prevent ourselves from getting sick? I’m interested in finding out what this is and what caused this uncanny coincidence.

  • Anonymous on 11.18.2010 at 1:49 pm

    I know a girl who actually went to the ER for it and they just gave her liquids and antibiotics and didn’t say what exactly it was. The vomiting doesn’t last long though – after a few hours you should be weak and unable to eat what and how much you usually would, but otherwise fine.

  • Anonymous on 11.18.2010 at 3:18 pm

    It’s probably Norovirus. Tis the season. Wash your hands well and perform careful cleaning of surfaces. Alcohol-based hand gels are not as effective against Norovirus as it is against the flu virus.

  • Anonymous on 11.18.2010 at 11:13 pm

    reply to first post

    symptoms are pretty nonspecific – if it’s foodborne, washing your hands, refraining from sharing liquids/food should keep you safe. Also might want to avoid any uncooked meals coming from the dining halls there. The news tonight suggested the pathogen is a type of norvirus, which has a very short incubation period (between 1-2 days). Friends of sick people might want to try to figure out what they ate before shunning them, so they can avoid the same foods.

    Any other places to get more info about this?

  • Anonymous on 11.18.2010 at 11:57 pm

    Avoid dorm food a while.

  • Anonymous on 12.05.2010 at 11:52 am

    i had this last night, better this morning but still weak!

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