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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Update on diarrhoeal illness

We are now aware of 18 students in Hall with gastro-intestinal symptoms overnight.

REPORTING:
If you've been unwell with diarrhoea in the last 12 hours, please contact the Bursar's Office today or email sicknessreporting@connaught-hall.org.uk. Please visit your GP today if possible, tell them several residents have been unwell with the same symptoms, and ask if they will send a stool sample for you. The purpose of a stool sample is to figure out what organism has caused this outbreak. This can help guide your treatment (e.g. indicate whether antibiotics might be useful) but we also need to know if this is a virus spread from one resident to another or if it might be food poisoning.


TREATMENT:

Remember to drink plenty of clear fluids, use paracetamol to relieve pain and/or fever, and let a friend know that you're unwell. Please observe strict hygiene in the bathrooms and elsewhere to avoid passing any bugs to others! There is more advice about self-treatment of diarrhoea and vomiting here: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diarrhoea/Pages/Treatment.aspx.
You must definitely see a doctor if your symptoms last more than 72 hours, if you collapse or feel faint when you stand up, or if there is blood in your stool. you may also need to see your doctor if you have an exam in the next few days: it will be useful to have medical confirmation that you have been unwell, in case you need to make a mitigating circumstances claim or miss your exam.
A doctor from 20 Gower Street Pactice is coming to Connaught Hall around 12.30 this afternoon. If you have informed us before then that you are unwell, we may be able to have the doctor come to see you in your room. Use the sicknessreporting@connaught-hall.org.uk email address.


PREVENTION:
If you are not affected by any symptoms, please remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bathroom or visiting anyone who is unwell. This will help ensure you don't catch anything. We have cleaners working to disinfect all the toilet blocks this morning.

We have placed alcohol hand sanitiser pumps at reception and on every floor. There is also a pump on the wall in the dining hall. These can help hand hygiene but are not a substitute for proper hand washing with soap and water: some stomach bugs are partly resistant to the hand gel but are easily washed off with soap and water.


INVESTIGATION:
As mentioned above, stool samples are important to help us work out what has caused this illness and whether the local authorities need to be involved. There is currently no evidence of a connection with food: those affected ate different things at dinner last night. This could just as easily be a norovirus outbreak, which is usually spread by personal contact rather than through food. Of course the kitchen will review the food temperature logs to ensure everything was kept hot enough last night, and send samples of any leftovers for analysis.


I hope everyone affected by this feels better soon. If you are not affected, please don't worry: just wash your hands carefully and you should stay well!