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Stomach Flu At BU: We Report It On HealthMap

This article is more than 12 years old.

Normally, we wouldn't make it a news item that there's an uptick of vomiting and diarrhea at Boston University, centered at Warren Towers.

But it seemed like that information from the BU Student Health Services could serve as a good example for how we can all use HealthMap, the new sickness-tracking service that is a joint project between CommonHealth and Children's Hospital Boston.

The BU health service writes that "It seems most likely that this does not represent a food-borne illness. The clinical presentation is possibly consistent with Norovirus. Gastrointestinal illnesses can be caused by viruses and/or bacteria (among other things). Both of these causes are contagious."

So here's what I did. I went a little ways down the right-hand bar of CommonHealth, and clicked on the HealthMap picture. At the lower left, I clicked on "Post a Report." Then on "Provide an eyewitness report." For a headline, I wrote "Possible Norovirus at Boston University's Warren Towers." I clicked on Norovirus from the drop-down menu of diseases, wrote "Boston University" for the location, gave my email and for the description, wrote "vomiting and diarrhea among students." Clicked submit and was told "Thank you for your report!" Because it comes from a non-official source, it will take a day or so to be vetted, but then should appear on the map.

Why bother? Well, wouldn't you want someone to do the same for you? And when you know that something is going around, that gives you the chance to up your prevention efforts, or if you do catch it, to be prepared with knowledge about treatments. For example, at B.U., the Health Service reported:

Prevention is key in such situations.

* Wash your hands frequently, particularly after using the bathroom and before eating or preparing food.
* Avoid those who are ill, if possible.
* Clean high touch surfaces in your room with anti-bacterial cleaner (Clorox wipes).

For the past two days, custodial staff has increased cleaning efforts in residence halls around campus, particularly in Warren Towers. We have also implemented increased infection control measures in the dining halls.

This program aired on November 19, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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