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Photo taken of dining hall at Boston College, with signs warning of the virus, food wrapped in plastic.
Jamie Kim / Gavel Media

Diatribe: Norovirus or No Real Virus?

While strolling through Stokes South, swiping through what seemed like my billionth email of the day, I happened upon an email bearing the innocent subject line: “Update on Winter Health Issues.” Could this be the reasoning for the condom-covered bananas in the dining hall, I wondered?

I read on as Dr. Nary, the Director of University Health Services, attempted to placate the ongoing rumors surrounding the possible Norovirus outbreak at BC and claimed that there were no confirmed cases of any such thing. As if on cue, I got cut off by a girl running into the restroom as she proceeded to yack up her Eagle’s bowl (which she must have waited an eternity for). Does that count as a confirmed case, Dr. Nary?

For the past week, BC has appeared like the setting for an end of the world movie. Students are visiting Health Services at rates rivaling the Mods on a Saturday night. Whispers are heard over aggressive handwashing—“I can’t believe it happened to her too!” Students are forced to purchase food items wrapped in enough plastic to survive a nuclear attack. Remind me again why nature’s already pre-wrapped miracle, bananas and oranges, are any safer when covered in saran wrap? Amidst all of the attention to sanitation in the dining halls, I couldn’t help but find it a little funny (and quite disgusting) that my dorm bathroom couldn’t even manage to have hand soap for an entire day. This made it incredibly hard to follow Dr. Nary’s much appreciated practical health tips that he emailed out: “Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”

After witnessing a second person vomiting in a Stokes bathroom, I decided to do some of my own research to see what the fuss was all about. I sifted through some very dramatic WebMD articles claiming I might have Norovirus or a strange disease often found in the West Nile and landed on the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website. According to their site, Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes severe vomiting and stomach pain and lasts for one to three days—a time killer that can be deadly in the midst of midterm season.

Short of complete isolation, which sounds like a wonderful excuse to miss my impending chemistry exam, it is incredibly difficult to stop the virus’s spread. Close contact with someone infected, shared drinks or food, and contaminated surfaces can all transmit the sickness. An even more terrifying fact is that Norovirus can survive hot temperatures and even some disinfectants. I guess my aggressive cleaning with Clorox wipes may be doing nothing other than permanently stinging my eyes and nose hairs with the crisp scent of lemony fresh chemicals.

You might be thinking, “But wait...I distinctly remember Dr. Nary saying the Norovirus was just a rumor! So we don’t have to worry about that, right? ” Sadly, you are wrong! Apparently, it was just a rumor until another university-wide email sent on Tuesday morning in which Dr. Nary revealed three new confirmed cases of the Norovirus.

That’s it folks. We are toast! If the Norovirus could please kill me before next Wednesday that would be great! Have I mentioned I have a chemistry midterm? In all honesty, it seems next to impossible to avoid it at this point. College is like living full-time in a contamination petri dish. I guess the least we can do is follow our childhood advice to avoid cooties by washing our hands, keeping our sippy cups to ourselves, and not sharing our lunch time snacks. I wish you all luck! There are only a few more days until sweet, sweet germ relief during spring break! Stay safe to my peers with healthy immune systems, and to all the Norovirus carriers out there—stay away!

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