Graphic by Kylie Myers
Public Relations issued a Health Advisory, via email, on March 24 about a virus known to cause “stomach or intestinal inflammation, leading to stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.” While flu season peaked in February, the Norovirus has been making rounds in Southern California, causing as many as 500 cases in an Oxnard school district.
“We are aware of a few students who have had stomach/intestinal symptoms, but only one that has been officially diagnosed,” the Student Health Center wrote in an email. “Various viruses, bacteria and other diseases can cause gastrointestinal illnesses so someone with symptoms doesn’t necessarily have Norovirus.”
Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States, according to the Student Health Center, stating in an email that a person will get Norovirus an estimated five times in their lifetime. The virus is highly contagious and spreads through infected people, food, water and contaminated surfaces.
“In any community, including Pepperdine, it could potentially spread,” the email stated.
While several communities in Southern California have experienced large Norovirus outbreaks (John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica, for example, closed the school for a few days in February), the Student Health Center has confirmed that Pepperdine remains relatively unscathed.
Freshman Chase Mason said he didn’t receive official diagnosis of Norovirus, but said most of his suite in Shafer experienced similar symptoms.
“It started last Sunday for the first person who got it,” Mason said. “I got it on Wednesday, after my [roommate] got sick.”
Mason said he visited the Student Health Center where he received anti-nausea medication.
“They just said it was a stomach bug, but they didn’t say Norovirus,” Mason said. “They needed a sample but I was feeling better, so I couldn’t … My symptoms lined up from what the school sent in an email.”
Senior RA Andrea Smith said a similar bug went around Connor House last week.
“I’m not completely sure I had Norovirus, but definitely something funky was going around our house and causing people to vomit for 24 hours,” Smith said.
One non-Pepperdine student who contracted Norovirus was Parker Bosworth, brother of senior Bailey Bosworth and student at UC Colorado Springs, who visited Pepperdine this past week on his spring break. Parker Bosworth said he had recovered from the Norovirus the week prior.
“I got sick from my friend who had it a few days before me,” Bosworth said. “I found out it was the Norovirus from the nurse at the ER who was taking care of me.”
The length of the illness lasted 12 hours, Bosworth said. He said his prescription of Zofran helped to get rid of nausea “so you can drink water and not throw it back up” in order to avoid dehydration.
“Or more practical advice would be bring a trash can everywhere you go,” Bosworth said.
If sick, the Student Health Center recommends to wash hands frequently, “preferably with soap and water for 20 seconds,” stay home from class or work, clean surfaces using a “bleach-based household cleaner,” and to avoid sharing and preparing food for others.
For those who may be experiencing Norovirus symptoms, contact the Student Health Center at (310) 506-4316.
Follow Julia Naman on Twitter @julianamanmusic