UNC Health Services: Unexplained Illness Spike On Campus

CHAPEL HILL – UNC Campus Health Services is reporting an unusual spike in the number of students coming in with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea—and for the moment, they’re not sure why.

Health officials found the increase worrisome enough to send out a campus-wide Alert Carolina message Thursday afternoon informing the UNC community. The message says Campus Health Services and the Orange County Health Department are working together to identify the cause.

In the meantime, health officials say it’s a good idea to wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food.

The full Alert Carolina message is below.


February 28, 2013

Dear Carolina Community,

Increased numbers of students with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are being seen at Campus Health Services and other healthcare facilities.  Campus Health Services is working very closely with the Orange County Health Department to identify the cause of these illnesses.

To keep healthy in the meantime, please take the following preventive steps:

•       Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food.
•       Alcohol-based sanitizers may not always be effective.

If you are sick or are around others who are sick:

•       Do not go to work or school and stay at home if at all possible.
•       Wash and rinse fruits and vegetables carefully before consuming them.
•       Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness. First spray the area with a bleach-based disinfectant or diluted household bleach; then clean with the disinfectant wearing disposable gloves. Diluted bleach should be mixed with 1:10 water and mixed daily.
•       Cleanup waste should be placed in a plastic bag, which should be tied and placed in the trash receptacle.
•       Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens in hot water and detergent. They may be contaminated after an episode of illness.
•       Flush or discard any vomitus and/or stool in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean and disinfected.
•       If you are ill, prevent dehydration by frequently sipping a non-alcoholic beverage.

Students with questions should contact Campus Health Services at (919) 966-6573 to speak directly with a registered nurse. University employees with questions, especially housekeepers who want specific guidance, should contact the Department of Environment, Health & Safety at (919) 962-5507.


Mary Covington
Executive Director for Campus Health Services