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UPDATE: Health Officials Believe Students Had Virus

Students staying at George Mason University as part of a summer program became ill early Thursday morning.

UPDATE (6:05 p.m.): Fairfax County health officials believe the illness that affected 40 students staying at Mason -- and sent 14 to the hospital early this morning -- could be a virus.

The latest news release says:

"The Health Department’s initial findings indicate that the ill people likely contracted viral gastroenteritis that has spread from person to person. Specimens from ill people were collected for laboratory testing in an attempt to more definitively determine the cause of illness.  At this time, 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."

We'll continue to provide more information, as it becomes available.

(11:06 a.m.): Dave Rohr said 14 people were taken to the hospital for food poisoning, not seven as initially reported.

The 40 program participants ranged from feeling sick to suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. Firefighters and two medics triaged those with food poisoning symptoms and transported the worst of them for further treatment. 

"It's not a life threatening thing," Rohr said. "If you've been vomiting all night, you're dehydrated. We transported them to the hospital to keep a watch on them, rehydrate and replace fluids."

Those who displayed none or a few of the the symptoms remained on campus. Most intend to finish out the weeklong program, while some of the local attendees were picked up by their parents, said Rohr.

The program participants ate at a few D.C. restaurants yesterday. Still no word on which ones.

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About 40 students staying at as part of a summer program apparently suffered from food poisoning Wednesday night and had to be taken to area hospitals, according to university officials.

In total, 80 students between the ages of 15 and 22 years old were staying at the university as part of the Congressional Award Foundation Summer program. Of those, 40 of them became ill between 1 and 2 a.m. Thursday, said George Mason University spokesman Dan Walsch.

“They are being monitored very closely by fire department officials and doctors…None of them are in a life-threatening situation,” Walsch said.

Walsch and Fairfax City Fire Department Chief Dave Rohr said that the students reported vomiting and diarrhea. Seven of them had to be taken to area hospitals for further treatment. None of the students had eaten on the Mason campus yesterday.

Walsch said that the students went to a Nationals game Wednesday and also ate at a restaurant in D.C., but he did not know the name of the restaurant.

The students came from all over the country for the program. Their parents have been contacted about the situation, Walsch said.

Mark Filiatreau August 15, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Didn't a similar outbreak occur within the last year at GMU?
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