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Important Community Health Update

Dear Emerson Community,

We want to remind all students, faculty, and staff to practice good hygiene measures to reduce the possibility of becoming infected with viral gastroenteritis or other stomach illnesses. We want to be preventative in keeping our community safe.

What is viral gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is caused by a variety of viruses that results in vomiting or diarrhea. It is often called the “stomach flu”, although it is not caused by influenza viruses.

How do people get viral gastroenteritis?

  • Direct contact with an infected individual 
  • Consuming contaminated food or drink
  • Putting unwashed hands in your mouth after touching contaminated objects

The most common symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Muscle aches or headaches

Most symptoms will improve over 24 to 48 hours without medical attention. You should not return to work, school, or athletic/fitness activities until you have been symptom free without a fever for 24 hours. You may experience severe sickness and frequently have diarrhea or vomiting throughout the day. To make up for the fluid loss from vomiting and diarrhea, you should consume plenty of liquids. 

If you have any questions about your symptoms please call Health Services at 617-824-8666. You can also contact your primary care provider for medical advice.

When to seek emergency medical attention or call 911:

  • If your symptoms last more than 48 hours, despite following the self-care guidelines
  • If you have severe abdominal pain impacting your ability to eat or drink fluids 
  • If you have blood in your stool 
  • If you are experiencing signs of severe dehydration 
  • Symptoms of Dehydration
    • Severe dizziness or feeling like you will faint
    • Confusion or lethargy (unresponsive)
    • Extreme thirst
    • Very dry mouth 
    • Little or no urination

What can I do to feel better?

  • Rest and drink plenty of water including pedialyte or other electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade, and clear soups or broths. Take in about 1/2 cup of liquid every 15-30 mins while you are awake. Avoid caffeine and alcohol; herbal teas are okay.
  • Once you are able to hold down fluids without nausea or vomiting, you can start eating easy to digest foods such as saltines, crackers, or dry toast. Continue to additional items such as bananas; rice/pasta/potatoes; oatmeal/cream of wheat; or plain bagel.
  • The key is to eat small amounts of food, 4-5 times per day while your stomach is recovering. 
  • Avoid foods that are high in fat, fiber, or sugar for at least 4-5 days after symptoms resolve.
  • Slowly get back to your usual nutritional habits.

Everyone can reduce their chances of coming in contact with viral gastroenteritis and stomach illnesses by following these simple tips:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your face or mouth
  • Disinfect high touch surfaces and restrooms with bleach-based solution
  • Handle and prepare food safely
  • Avoid sharing utensils, food, and beverages with others
  • Avoid preparing food for others when sick and for two days after symptoms stop
  • Thoroughly wash your clothes
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