When over thirty students and faculty fall ill and experience common symptoms in weeks time, it is appropriate to assume the pathogen responsible was transmitted either through fecal-oral or respiratory routes. In the case of Denison University's 36 students and 2 faculty, the culprit was transmitted through the former. Licking County Health Official, Joe Ebel, in a statement to a Columbus Dispatch representative declared the importance of sanitary precautions- “hand washing, using hand sanitizers, staying home when sick, cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, and not preparing food when sick can help reduce your risk of acquiring or spreading norovirus.”
Norovirus is the leading cause of food-borne illnesses in the United States.
Along with the University outbreak, the Licking County Health department also attended to a similar outbreak that occurred at a dinner hosted by the Columbus Museum of Art. In this situation, 41 of 78 attendees dell ill with symptoms that included diarrhea and vomiting.
Despite the two outbreaks' proximity, the Ohio Department of Health has claimed that there is no current connection and the outbreaks are being treated as two isolated events. There was one Denison University student working at the Columbus Museum of Art dinner- he, however, was not involved in food preparation or distribution and was not one of the norovirus victims on campus.
It is essential to note that diarrhea is an underreported symptom and this lack of reporting factors into the degree of outbreaks that occur.
Please wash your hands regularly :).