Parent expresses frustration as Georgetown student illnesses impact at least 40

The number of students sickened on Georgetown’s D.C. campus has ticked up.

The university earlier this week said that 12 students on the main campus have reported symptoms including severe stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea. As of Thursday morning, that figure is over 40.

According to the university, it is “continuing to monitor reported cases with symptoms fitting the GI illness on Main Campus.”

It said “We continue to see a substantial decrease in the number of new cases reported. We are continuing to investigate the source of the illness and work with DC Health. We are also maintaining our additional health and safety procedures including increasing cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas in residence halls and dining spaces.”

The school said most students have reported short-lived symptoms.

WTOP has reached out to Georgetown to find out how it’s handling communication with parents. A spokeswoman said all updates will be posted online.

D.C. Health directed reporter questions to the university. Area hospitals have not yet responded.

One local parent, who spoke to WTOP on the condition of anonymity, was able to bring her daughter home after she threw up multiple times in her dorm room. She said Thursday her daughter had heard of an illness going around.

“Oh, she’s heard that other people … have this — have something,” the parent told WTOP. “So then I noticed an email from Georgetown — didn’t come till yesterday — although I saw that they had put something out to the members of the community Tuesday night.”

They said there were some “real horror stories” shared to a private Facebook page about student illnesses at Georgetown. And that parent’s daughter “was really in terrible shape” Wednesday night.

A lot of parents think school food is to blame, the parent said.

“I know a lot of parents are very angry about the food … They’re really suspecting the food.”

Photos shared with WTOP, first posted in the Facebook group, show undercooked chicken allegedly from the Georgetown cafeteria.

The parent of the sickened student told WTOP her daughter didn’t eat that chicken, though.

“She had mac and cheese and hamburgers.”

The parent told WTOP, as they were sitting in front of their daughter’s dorm, that they’re calm about the situation because they live nearby and can come take care of their child, but it’s different “when you’re a parent worrying from 1,000 miles away.”

The parent added that the university medical personnel they spoke with were “very nice and very, I have to say, very helpful.”

“I hope the university gives you the information that you may need,” the parent said.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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