MIT Medical responds to gastroenteritis outbreak on campus

MIT Medical responds to gastroenteritis outbreak on campus

MIT Medical and Urgent Care saw an increase in people with acute gastroenteritis this week. MIT Medical saw 16 patients during the day on Wednesday with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, according to a statement to the MIT News Office from Associate Medical Director Howard M. Heller.

In an email to campus MedLinks (students in living groups trained by MIT Medical in First Aid and authorized to dispense over-the-counter medications and other medical resources), MIT Medical Program Manager Gregory E. Baker advised students to stay hydrated, get enough rest, and practice good hand-washing technique to prevent the spread of disease. “This may or may not be norovirus,” Heller told the MIT News Office, adding that “whether it’s norovirus or not, our response should be the same — paying extra attention to practicing good hygiene.”

Norovirus is a contagious virus that causes stomach and/or intestinal inflammation, also called the stomach flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States. Common symptoms include nausea, stomach cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, and occasionally fever. The CDC reports that most people with norovirus get better within one to three days. Baker mentioned in his email that MIT Medical recommends that people who are experiencing symptoms avoid foods with high fat and/or sugar content as well as caffeinated or carbonated beverages. He also noted that those with a fever of 104°F or higher, blood in their vomit or stool, severe abdominal pain, or very dark yellow/brown urine even when hydrated should come to MIT Medical for treatment. For self care, Pepto Bismol (containing bismuth subsalicylate, an antidiarrheal drug) is recommended over Immodium (containing loperamide, an alternative antidiarrheal).

If you are experiencing symptoms, MIT Medical Urgent Care is open for walk-ins from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. seven days a week. You can also call 617-253-4481 for after hours advice. Students who feel particularly inconvenienced by their illness can also visit the Student Support Services Center (S3) by appointment or during their extended walk-in hours for help in rescheduling academic obligations.

—Stan Gill