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George Washington University confirms 85 cases of norovirus

An outbreak of the highly-contagious norovirus is spreading through The George Washington University, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Officials at the university and the District of Columbia's Health Department confirmed 85 cases of the gastrointestinal illness were diagnosed since Monday, myFOXdc.com reported.

The virus was found in locations including the central Foggy Bottom campus and the Mount Vernon campus in Northwest Washington. Members of the university also reported cases off campus.

The university is beefing up cleaning of heavily-used communal areas and installing hand sanitizers in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading further. It also issued an advisory encouraging students, faculty and staff members to wash their hands frequently and disinfect surfaces.

Dr. Henry Masur of the National Institutes of Health told WTTG, "One in 14 Americans will get norovirus every year ... it's very common. It is extremely uncomfortable, but the good news is after 48 to 72 hours of very unpleasant nausea, vomiting, diarrhea … it goes away."

The Centers for Disease Control says there are 21 million cases each year in the US.

Norovirus is passed through direct contact with an infected person, eating or drinking contaminated food and liquid, or by touching contaminated surfaces then placing hands or fingers in the mouth, according to the body.

In New Jersey, both Princeton University and Rider University also recently reported ongoing outbreaks of the illness on campus.

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