As you know, the Minnesota Department of Health and the Saint John’s and Saint Benedict communities have been investigating reports of gastrointestinal illness (possibly norovirus), involving diarrhea and vomiting among students, faculty, employees and residents of Saint John’s and Saint Benedict’s.

In assessing the spread of this illness, the entire communities were invited to participate in a Web survey, offering input relating to specific health issues and concerns. More than 600 people responded to the survey. 124 of those respondents stated they experienced symptoms that the health department indicated were consistent with the norovirus.

The health department has concluded that the source of this possible norovirus is from person-to-person contact and not from contaminated food or water. Cleaning schedules of bathrooms and other public areas have been increased to help prevent the further spread of this illness. Please remember that one of the best ways to prevent the spread of any illness is to adhere to strict hand-washing practice.

The media has inquired about the presence of the norovirus in our communities, and we believe there will be reports on today’s evening news on all Twin Cities television stations. We have made them aware of our assessment process and our collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Health.

We will continue to work with the Minnesota Department of Health to further assess this situation and provide care for the individuals who are experiencing illness.