A mysterious viral outbreak has forced a Canadian University to shut down as it has struck 100 students on campus. This is thought to be a Norwalk-type virus that has affected several on the campus of Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and in the surrounding university town of Sackville.
Public health officials have been asked by university officials to investigate the outbreak.
"They spent three hours on campus and they haven't found anything that leads them to suspect anything in terms of food, but they think that it's Norwalk-type virus," said Sheila Blagrave, the university's spokeswoman.
"Those test results won't be back until Monday, so in the meantime we canceled classes...and all extracurricular, athletic and social events."
She said, "About 40 students went to outpatient services at the local hospital on Thursday and Friday to be treated for dehydration. No students were admitted for further treatment of the suspected gastrointestinal bug, which can cause serious problems in people with depressed immune systems. "
Norwalk is a persistent gastrointestinal virus that spreads through contaminated foods and water and causes nausea, projectile vomiting, explosive diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, fatigue and sometimes a low-grade fever.
Stomach flu or 24-hour flu is the name given by people to describe Norwalk-like illnesses, however, there is no relationship between the viruses, as flu or influenza is a respiratory virus.
Dr. Denis Allard, district medical health official for Moncton, said, "Public health officials are not ready to say the bug is definitely Norwalk or a Norwalk type. Stool samples are being tested for bacteria and viruses, but the outbreak bears the distinctive traits of Norwalk. "
"We already have quite a few people who have started to recover within 36 hours of starting to be ill, " Allard said. "It is this clinical picture of the symptoms and the short duration that makes us think this is a Norwalk virus."