Now it's up to Mason, local health officials and the ill individuals to make sure the virus doesn't continue to spread.
Fairfax City firefighters triaged those showing symptoms of food poisoning at around 2 a.m. Thursday. Of 80 students between the ages of 15 and 22 years old attending the weeklong Congressional Award summer program, 40 showed signs of sickness. The worst were sent to local urgent care facilities and hospitals, while the rest continued with their program or went home.
Tests show that the culprit was a gastrointestinal illness spread between the program participants, not food poisoning as originally reported. The virus, commonly known as stomach flu, spread among the summer camp participants staying at Piedmont Hall on Mason's Fairfax campus.
"The health department continues to investigate the possibility of food-borne transmission; however, early evidence suggests that the illness has spread through person to person contact," according to a press release sent out by the Fairfax County Health Department.
There's only one person with a confirmed case of stomach flu remaining on campus at this time. Mason officials are working to disinfect Piedmont Hall.
Mason classes and activities are still on as scheduled.
Students and Mason visitors should take precautions to keep from catching the virus. Health officials suggest:
- Washing your hands often with soap and use hand sanitizer.
- Clean oft-used surfaces with alcohol or bleach-based cleaner.
- Wash soiled clothes and linens.
If you start showing signs of sickness (vomiting, diarrhea):
- Seek medical attention.
- Stay at home, away from public places where the illness could spread to others.
Stomach flu lasts a day or two and is not often life-threatening. It is spread person-to-person, by coming in contact with contaminated hands, clothes and surfaces, as well as when sick individuals vomit in public areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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