Viral outbreak closes Mount Allison campus
CBC News – 13/10/2006

Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., has cancelled classes and closed all public buildings in response to an outbreak that has caused diarrhea and vomiting among at least 100 students.

Public health officials asked the university to close its campus on Friday, suggesting that a fast-moving, Norwalk-type virus is likely to blame for the illness. It’s sweeping through the university dorms and has hit faculty and staff.

All classes and extracurricular activites are cancelled until Monday. The dining hall, all academic buildings, residences and the library will remain open. Community groups and members of the public are asked to stay off the campus.

A letter to the public from Stephen McClatchie, Mount Allison’s vice-president, academic and research, suggests students began getting sick on Thursday. He says some were treated at Sackville Memorial Hospital, while others remained in their rooms.

McLatchie says the school administration invited public health officials to investigate as soon as students began getting sick.

“We are continuing to care for students, providing as much information as we can to them and to their parents – about how to prevent further spread of the stomach flu-like symptoms,” he said.

The school and public health officials are holding a news conference on the outbreak on Friday afternoon.

Norwalk, which can hit cruise ships and other places where people live in close quarters, lasts about 24 to 48 hours and has no serious lingering effects.

Students got sick first

Students living in residence were the first to realize something was wrong earlier this week.

“There’s a lot of people who have gotten sick,” said first-year student Amanda Hughes.

“I know 30 people at Windsor [Hall] are sick from it, and a couple of kids from our house have been in the hospital.”

Another student, Mathew Moreau, says many students suspected food poisoning.

“There’s been a lot of rumours now. The whole meal hall is deserted because no one exactly [knows] what is going on, so everyone is just dodging it at the moment,” Moreau said. “I went to lunch today and there was barely anyone there.”

Mount Allison spokesperson Sheila Blagrave says tests have found nothing wrong with the food services. She says the university has e-mailed students with advice on avoiding infection through handwashing and cleanliness, and where to go for help if they get sick.

Public health staff identified a gastrointestinal virus through samples taken from students and staff.

Interesting and kinda freaky about this university back in Canada. I guess I’m glad that I’m not there and suffering like the rest of them, but instead I’m suffering in several other ways: hermitism, lonelyness, discontent, heat etc etc.

Scary that it’s even on the National News, so I thought that I would let you all know if you didn’t already know, and for the record I’m in France now so don’t worry I’m not getting a virus or something 😉 I only had a tiny little cold *knock on wood*