Several students at Georgetown University have reported suffering from severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea — symptoms a health official said are linked to gastrointestinal infection.
The school’s chief public health officer, Dr. Ranit Mishori, dismissed claims that the cases are related to influenza or COVID-19. She said the outbreak is likely due to contaminated food.
“At this time, we do not know the cause of the symptoms, but it is prudent to assume they are related to an infectious process. Please be aware that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a national outbreak of Salmonella from an unknown source,” the doctor said, as quoted by Food Safety News.
University officials assured students that they are working closely with the CDC to identify the cause of the illness and to determine if it is part of the Salmonella outbreak that has already sickened at least 127 people in 25 states.
Meanwhile, Mishori advised students experiencing symptoms to limit contact with others and keep themselves well hydrated. She also reminded students to practice good hygiene by washing their hands and using hand sanitizer.
In a press release, Georgetown revealed that it is surveying affected students to identify common exposure. It also said that health officials are collecting stool samples to determine potential pathogens.
The school also disclosed that while some affected individuals have been evaluated and provided with rehydration at local emergency departments, none of them needed to be rushed to the hospital.
To prevent any future incidents, the university said it has removed pre-packaged and pre-washed food items from its dining facilities. It also conducted additional cleaning and disinfection of residence halls and dining areas.
Other students who may be experiencing symptoms of foodborne infection are advised to stay home and report their condition to the student health center at 202-687-2200.