Union University Closes Due to Illness

Natalie Potts

JACKSON, Tenn.- Union University shut down its campus for two days after a widespread and violent illness infected nearly 40 percent of the students who live on campus, Monday.

Union leaders said it is not the flu, but a virus that has sickened hundreds of students and professors. With more than 300 students too sick to attend class, Union administrators shut down the campus after talking with health officials.

"This is a little bit more severe than what we've had for quite a while that's why we are taking these steps to try and get on top of it and put an end to it quickly," said Tim Elsworth, director of Media Relations.

The virus has not yet been identified. Officials with the heath department have collected samples and are working to identify the viral strand in this outbreak. Students told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News they are taking precautions to stay healthy.

"Most of the students especially from quad area where I live are down sick in the bed they've been giving us Lysol to wipe down all of our beds to make sure the rest of us stay healthy," said Freshmen Morgan Morfe.

More than 300 students of Union's 1,100 students who live on campus living have been infected. Administrators hope to stop the sickness from spreading. Union's total enrollment is more than 4,200 students.

"With a campus this small, I mean we have only one cafeteria it's easy, everybody is going to same places all the time. It's pretty easy to spread things pretty quickly," said Sophomore Will Duncan.

Doctors said with this virus students are highly contagious, 48 hours before and after their first symptoms.

"You may not know that you have it and your spreading it to other people and it's contagious for a while after you've had the symptoms, that's just the nature of the virus," said Ellsworth.

Doctors said the virus only affects your digestive system and there is no way to immunize against it. If you have been contaminated, physicians advice no food, not even a cracker for 24 hours. Health experts told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News the sick should remember to stay hydrated as well. School officials are disinfecting all common areas on campus, they are encouraging students to do the same.

"Wash your hands, cover your mouth and don't try and shake other people's hands," said junior Joe Dresser. "Clean your door knobs, just be clean, be safe and be healthy."

Union University plans to re-open Wednesday morning. Its health services will remain open during normal hours.


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