Ursinus Isn’t the Only College With Hundreds of Sick Kids

And guess which easily-preventable-via-vaccine disease is back now?

Norovirus. Image | NIH

Norovirus. Image | NIH

We thought kids these days only communicated over their iPhones and existed curled on their beds in miserable isolation, but we must be wrong, since the nation’s college campuses are being swept by contagious disease. An article in Inside Higher Ed reflects on the current wave of epidemics, which include 200 sick with norovirus — which was the culprit at Ursinus College locally back in February — at Miami University of Ohio, 150 downed at the University of Michigan, 120 at Boston U. in December (they’d all been to Chipotle) and dozens at UC Berkeley.

There’s some cool stuff about how plucky Ursinus soldiered through its ordeal (“They came in waves,” says campus medical director Paul Dogramji), by closing the dining hall and drenching the campus in hand sanitizers while students hashtagged #ursinusplague and armed themselves with samurai swords. Dogramji notes, interestingly, that none of the school’s medical staff came down with the bug (“If you exercise good prevention methods, even if you have close contact, you won’t necessarily get it”), and that a campus is a lot like a cruise ship, another closed environment that’s seen massive outbreaks of contagious disease.

And speaking of contagious disease, there have been cases of good ol’ mumps at a number of colleges across the country, including Harvard, St. Anselm, Louisville, the University of Kentucky, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and three different schools in Indiana, one of those being Butler University, where all nine students who caught the disease had been vaccinated. The vaccine is only 90 percent effective in protecting against the illness, which is usually mild but can cause serious complications, including brain infection and infertility. Vaccination exemptions requested by parents who listen to medical experts like Jenny McCarthy lower the overall herd immunity and increase the risk of outbreaks. Inside Higher Ed says we can expect more cases of easily preventable diseases as ill-informed parents continue to opt out of vaccines.

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