By Delaney Fox, Staff Writer
With the return from spring break and the implementation of the new optional masking policy, many students expressed concerns about a potential rise in COVID-19 cases. However, students were taken by surprise when cases of viral gastroenteritis, colloquially known as the stomach flu, began to rise instead.
Many students have reported symptoms consistent with the stomach flu or food poisoning since the return from spring break, including stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and sometimes fever.
Gretchen Flock, Director of Wellness, said that the Wellness Center has been screening incoming cases to assess for food poisoning. Due to the variety of locations that students had eaten at, they diagnosed students with the stomach flu.
“There is no effective treatment for it, but over the counter medicines can offer some help for the symptoms,” Flock said. “If you are unable to keep food or water down for 24 hours, monitor yourself for dehydration and seek assistance.”
The stomach flu is spread through contact with an infected person and usually lasts one to two days. Students who become dehydrated or need to seek assistance for stomach flu-related symptoms should contact the Wellness Center or other local health care entities.
The Wellness Center posted additional information concerning viral gastroenteritis symptoms and prevention on the MySV Portal on Mar. 18.
In addition to the stomach flu, Flock said that there has been a general “increase in illness” on campus, which was expected after the introduction of the optional masking policy.
Kyra Lipetzky, sophomore English and marketing major, was one of the students affected by the stomach flu outbreak on campus.
“It was pretty disappointing to get sick right after returning from spring break. You’d expect to be refreshed and ready to finish the rest of the semester, but that idea goes right out the window when it comes to a stomach bug,” Lipetzky said. “It wasn’t just academics that I’ve missed out on either, but lacrosse games and even my own birthday celebration.”
Brynne Taylor, junior early childhood education major, was one of the students affected by a non-stomach flu related illness after returning from spring break.
“I think I just had a bad cold. The stress of returning to school and the changing weather were things that brought it on, and I think being around everyone without wearing masks was part of it too,” Taylor said. “Without having to wear masks, it seems like everyone has dropped their guards a little bit when it comes to sickness.”
The Wellness Center is encouraging students to continue to use good hand hygiene and maintain clean environments to stay well throughout the year and to finish the semester healthy.