Reports of illness at Kellogg Center (March 1, 2016)

Testing by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed norovirus is the cause of the gastrointestinal illness that sickened at least 375 people who attended events at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center from Feb. 16–21.

MSU officials immediately contacted the Ingham County Health Department upon the illnesses being reported and helped county investigators contact individuals who attended events at the Kellogg, as well as provided information on food served during those three days.

The health department has conducted nearly 800 interviews with people, both well and ill, who were at the Kellogg Center during the investigation period, but it has not yet identified exactly how the virus spread through the hotel and conference center.

“Unfortunately, norovirus is extremely contagious,” said Linda S. Vail, Ingham County Health Officer. “A very small amount can literally infect a thousand people. We are analyzing data, but there may not be one identifiable source.”

The Kellogg Center voluntarily suspended food service operations Feb. 22 and 23. The facility was fully cleaned and reopened on Feb. 24. No new illnesses outside the investigation period have been reported. There is no indication that people visiting other locations on campus were affected, and all other dining halls, restaurants and eateries across campus are open.

“Campus leaders will continue working with county health investigators on a possible source of the illnesses,” said David Weismantel, University Physician for MSU. “Though norovirus is common, its spread can be reduced by practicing good hygiene, washing your hands thoroughly and often, and self-isolating when you are sick.”

Norovirus is typically spread when people consume foods and beverages contaminated by those who are ill or who have recently been ill, or when people touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their faces or eat with unwashed hands. The most common symptoms of norovirus are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. Most people recover in 1 to 3 days without complications.

--Jason Cody, MSU spokesperson