01/15/2012 04:59 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2012

Norovirus Outbreak At Canadian University Press Conference Makes Dozens Ill

VICTORIA - Several dozen young adults fell ill with suspected norovirus at a student journalism conference in Victoria, the local health authority said Sunday.

About 360 students were attending a Canadian University Press conference at a Victoria hotel when 30 to 40 of them fell ill Saturday night, said Suzanne Germain of the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Germain said a few students experienced vomiting and diarrhea early Saturday evening, and more became sick as the night wore on. About a half-dozen were taken to hospital but were quickly released after they were hydrated.

The health authority hadn't confirmed definitively what made the students sick, but Germain said norovirus appeared to be the likely cause.

Germain said infected students are being asked to stay in their hotel rooms and not travel until symptoms have passed, while non-infected students can travel home as usual.

"The very best that they can do for themselves is to remain in their hotel rooms, cover up, put a blanket over your head and drink lots of water and just focus on letting the symptoms pass," said Germain.

Norovirus is transmitted through vomit and fecal matter, often when an infected person hasn't washed their hands after using the washroom, and symptoms include severe diarrhea and vomiting.

Germain said otherwise healthy people who contract norovirus should not visit the hospital to avoid transmitting it to patients with underlying medical conditions.

The Canadian University Press is a national organization representing campus newspapers at post-secondary institutions.