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Cause of college's mystery illness is found

COLLEGEVILLE, Pennsylvania -- The cause of a stomach illness that swept through Ursinus College in Pennsylvania over the past week has been identified.

School officials said Monday that the Montgomery County Health Department confirmed cases of norovirus, a highly contagious virus that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Classes were cancelled late last week but were scheduled to resume on Monday, CBS Philly reported.

Ursinus spokeswoman Esme Artz said an internal count showed 214 students, faculty and staff having reported symptoms through Sunday evening, which totals almost 13 percent of the current enrollment of 1,650. She said additional reports continue to trickle in.

Norovirus can spread rapidly, and outbreaks are frequently traced to food or surfaces contaminated by food service workers.

The symptoms typically set in within a day or two of exposure, and the acute illness lasts about a day.

Ursinus College's public spaces and common areas have undergone thorough cleaning throughout the weekend to prepare for classes to resume. Hand sanitizer dispensers are also being installed throughout the campus and that effort will continue throughout the week.

"Aggressive cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting efforts will continue throughout the week with the help of additional custodial staff," the school said in a statement.

On Saturday, the Montgomery County Department of Health issued a second Inspection Report for Food Establishments dealing with Ursinus' dining facilities and ensured that they are in compliance with regulations.

The school's Wismer Hall dining facility was closed on Wednesday, disinfected and reopened the following evening.

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