The Ursinus College stomach bug update provided by campus officials states that all public spaces and common areas on the campus have been cleaned, sanitized and disinfected. Apparently, the recent health report by the Montgomery County Health Department has not only stunned the public but also those responsible for campus cleanliness. The stomach bug, which sickened nearly 200 students and closed down the school, was traced to numerous health violations at the college’s dining hall. The thought of open pesticides near food, dead bugs, and improper hand washing habits was turning everyone’s stomach.
The latest update on the stomach bug was published by Ursinus College on Sunday, February 14, and reads as the following:
“Ursinus has been working very closely with the Montgomery County Department of Health since Wednesday morning. The department issued its second Inspection Report for Food Establishments yesterday morning, revealing that Ursinus College and its Wismer Hall dining facilities are in full compliance with (and had met) the department’s recommendations. We voluntarily closed Wismer Hall on Wednesday before re-opening on Thursday for dinner, and since then have continued to serve students for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
The source of the Ursinus College stomach bug was discovered by the Montgomery County Health Department, according to a February 14 ABC News report. School officials announced on Saturday that the college will be open again on Monday after 192 had come down with the stomach bug this past week.
Ursinus College is located in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and the first reports of a stomach bug came in on Tuesday night when students complained of a gastrointestinal ailment that caused prolonged bouts of vomiting. The nearly 200 students had all one thing in common – they had eaten at the college’s dining hall.
Some students shared their horrific experience on Twitter:
“There’s someone throwing up outside my window #ursinusplague”
“People are actually starting to drop like flies, follow @B_Neff14 for updates on the #ursinusplague”
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the #UrsinusPlague, it’s that cafeteria food can NEVER be trusted. http://co-ed.co/2xZPEZ
When reading the first official report by the Montgomery County Health Department, it is no surprise that students became ill after eating at the cafeteria. The report shows 12 health violations during a February 10 inspection.
Among the violations and health department recommendations were the following:
• Facility lacking a written procedure on how to manage vomitus or fecal incidents.
• Employee drinking on the cooks line while working with a open cup. Stop immd. Explained proper eating and drinking procedures to the manager.
• Employee handling the trash can, then preparing foods. Stop immd. Explained proper hand washing methods to the manger. Pan was replaced.
• Employee rubbing eyes, then handling the cutting boards without washing hands. Stop immd. Explained proper procedures to the manager.
• Slicer not clean, Clean and sanitize before next use.
• Table top can opener not clean. Clean and sanitize before the next use.
• Cutting boards on bain marie with dark groves and staining.
• Food prep sink not clean at the time of the inspection. Clean and sanitize sink before next use.
• Facility appears to have opened and unprotected pesticides under the front counter and behind several reach-in cooler units.
• Chef Manager Craig Paulus stated that the pest control operator told him it was mouse bait. There is also a white powder mixed with the possible mouse bait. According to the pest control report, a roach powder was applied which could be the white powder in question. This powder is named Boractin.
• Facility must contact a professional cleaning service to clean the areas affected by the pesticides before reopening.
• Dead roach like insects under the sinks, dry storage areas and lights shield of the kitchen.
• Employee placing hotel food pans on the floor, then placing them on the steam table. Stop immd. Employee removed pans at the time of the inspection.
• Wash water in the 3 bay sink not clean. Keep ware wash water fresh and clean.
• Dishwashing machine not sanitizing at the time of the inspection. Do not use this machine until permission is given by MCHD.
A follow-up health inspection on February 11 showed that the college had addressed the major health violations. However, the purpose of the follow-up report states “Voluntary Closure” until all health aspects have been addressed.
Ursinus College is providing daily updates to its students, including on how to receive online medical care via an app:
“According to Jefferson University, this offering, called JeffConnect On-Demand Virtual Care, should allow students to have an urgent care video visit with a Jefferson emergency physician anytime, 24/7, using a mobile device or a computer with a webcam. Common conditions treated by JeffConnect physicians include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, coughs, colds, sinus infections, injuries like sprains and strains, stomach aches and UTIs.”
The unique opportunity to get medical care without having to leave one’s dorm room is being offered by Jefferson University Hospital doctors through February 29, 2016. “Think FaceTime or Skype, just with an emergency physician.” Given the college’s cafeteria health report – bugs, pesticides, and improper handling of food and dishes — it is a surprise that students at Ursinus College were not hit by the stomach bug sooner.