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28 students sick in one U of M dorm; norovirus suspected

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There's a run on disinfectant on the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus, after more than two dozen students who live in Frontier Hall fell ill this week.

The campus newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, reports students in Frontier received an alert from the university's health service letting them know about the surge in reports of nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting since Tuesday.

FOX 9 says the state Health Department strongly suspects the illnesses are a norovirus outbreak.

A norovirus is any one of a group of viruses affecting the stomach and intestines, the Health Department says, and they are by far the leading cause of foodborne illnesses in Minnesota. Symptoms usually last a day or two but people can be violently ill during that time.

Frontier Hall is one of four adjacent residence halls that are collectively known as the "Superblock" on the U of M's East Bank campus. A university spokesman tells WCCO that while illnesses have so far only been reported in Frontier, all four of the dorms and the two dining halls residents use were being disinfected as a precaution.

A Health Department spokesman tells the Star Tribune investigators are interviewing affected students about what they ate and when.

The U of M's alert to students reminds them to wash their hands often. That also tops the Health Department's list of ways to prevent norovirus.

The Health Department said in December that a new strain of norovirus had turned up in Minnesota and might lead to more illnesses.

Lab tests confirmed this week that it was a norovirus outbreak that sickened at least 70 students at Oregon State University.

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