Norovirus Suspected of Sickening 50 California Students

At least 50 Chapman students were showing symptoms of norovirus, the school said. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News at 5 & 6 on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2015. (Published Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015)

Dozens of college students in Orange County, California, have been showing symptoms from an outbreak of what's suspected to be the highly contagious norovirus, officials said.

The first cases of the gastrointestinal illness at Chapman University were reported last Wednesday, and the school says as many as 50 students have fallen ill since.

Eight students were confirmed to have the virus, the school said.

"My stomach started being in knots, and I just felt terrible," student Logan Beerman said. "I was throwing up all night long."

2015 Southern California Images in the News

The source of the outbreak was unknown, but officials believe it did not originate at the school because several ill students live off campus and do not use the university's dining facilities.

Students, however, told NBC4 they had eaten at the school cafeteria before feeling sick.

The illness can be spread by touching an infected person, and through contaminated surfaces and food. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.

Kameron Backstrom was also one of the dozens of students with symptoms.

"I started feeling sick last week," Backstrom said.

Sophomore Coby Becker fears he may have it.

"General stomach uneasiness, I guess you can say. I didn't throw up, but I definitely was feeling a bit off," he said.

The university said it has disinfected high-traffic areas and residence hall dining commons on campus, and was working with the Orange County Health Department to monitor and investigate the outbreak.

"We meticulously went through the entire university and disinfected every restroom so it's all very clean now - not that it wasn't before," said university spokeswoman Mary Platt.

The university posted an FAQ online that includes advice on how students and staff can minimize their chances of contracting the virus and what they can do if they feel symptoms.

At least 65 students at Boston College also contracted norovirus this week, according to the city's health commission. Officials have said they believe the Boston outbreak is linked to a Chipotle restaurant near campus.