Outbreak sickens dozens at New Jersey university

Story highlights

  • The school worked through the night to help sick students
  • The outbreak follows a similar one at nearby Princeton
  • Norovirus is highly contagious

About 40 students at a university in New Jersey have been taken to hospitals for treatment after an outbreak of what authorities believe is the norovirus.

The Rider University students, at the school's campus in Lawrenceville, were brought to hospitals late Wednesday night, the school said Thursday.

The suspected outbreak comes a week after an outbreak began at nearby Princeton University, which is still under way, officials said.

"We are coordinating treatment information with that university. We have also informed neighboring institutions," Rider said on its website.

Norovirus is a highly contagious illness that is often called stomach flu or food poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States.

The most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Most people get better within one to two days.

Rider officials worked with health authorities throughout the night "to identify ill students in the residence halls and treat them either on site or send them to area hospitals," the school said.

Some of those taken to hospitals have been discharged and returned to campus.

People who get the virus are contagious "from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover," the school said.

Infection can occur by eating contaminated food; touching contaminated surfaces and then putting contaminated fingers in your mouth; or having direct contact with an infected person.

The school's food and custodial services are taking necessary steps, including cleaning all residence hall bathrooms and other areas.

Rider has about 4,700 undergraduate and 1,100 graduate students, and 250 full time faculty members.