Several dozen cases of a contagious stomach virus are under investigation at UNC-Chapel Hill and in the surrounding community, according to the Orange County Health Department.
The department is looking into 50 to 60 suspected cases of norovirus, a highly contagious gastrointestinal illness that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Eight cases were confirmed after laboratory tests, health officials said Tuesday.
The illnesses began to crop up during the first week of January, when many UNC-CH students were still on holiday break. On Tuesday, the university sent an e-mail message to students, faculty and staff urging precautions such as frequent hand washing.
The norovirus often appears during the winter when people tend to stay inside. Symptoms usually appear suddenly and last a day or two. Anyone who gets the symptoms should stay home, drink plenty of liquid and avoid preparing food during and after the illness. Some people, particularly the very young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, may be more prone to dehydration and could require special medical attention.
Last week, similar symptoms hit Salem Middle School in Apex particularly hard.