While there appeared to be a correlation between Grab ‘n’ Go item consumption and students’ reported gastrointestinal symptoms early this month, the D.C. Department of Health was not able to determine the origin of norovirus in its recently concluded investigation.

In a report published on its Web site on Friday, the DOH listed its finding for the virus’ etiology, or cause, only as a possible combination of person-to-person contact, contaminated food or contaminated surfaces.

However, the report does note a strong relationship between the afflicted students who were surveyed by DOH and their consumption of Grab `n’ Go food.

“We can state with 95 percent certainty that those students who purchased food from the Grab `n’ Go station . were 2.9 times more likely to become ill than those who did not purchase food from the Grab `n’ Go station,” the report states.

Organic To Go, a Seattle-based food service company and organic food retailer, began supplying many Grab `n’ Go items this fall, but university spokesperson Julie Bataille reported last week that the university had terminated its contract with the service for the foreseeable future.

“When we reopened [O’Donovan Hall], we proactively agreed with the Department of Health to do so preparing our own Grab `n’ Go items as there was enough reason to suspect a potential link between those items and the virus on campus,” Bataille said last week.

Students were first treated for symptoms resembling gastrointestinal disorders at Georgetown University Hospital on Sept. 30. In the days that followed, the number of ill students climbed drastically, reaching a high of 212 treated students only one week later, the university reported. The health department was brought into investigate on Oct. 1, and the next day informed the university that tests confirmed it was the highly contagious norovirus.

The report said that 204 Georgetown students reported symptoms consistent with those related to norovirus. The health department interviewed 119 of these individuals in their investigation.

LaShon Beamon, the interim communications director at the DOH, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Click to view the health department’s report

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