University Health Services (UHS) researchers are investigating a small epidemic of unidentified gastrointestinal illness that afflicted between 20 and 30 residents of North House's Holmes Hall, Dr. Sholem Postel, associate director of UHS, said yesterday.
Postel said that the investigators hope to determine the nature and origin of the disease in the next two days.
Holmes residents began to feel sick Sunday afternoon and new cases were still appearing yesterday. Symptoms included extreme nausea, fever, and frequent vomiting in the most severe cases.
Dede Dillon '79 said she began feeling ill early Monday morning, adding that during the day Monday she felt the sickest she had ever been. She said she was too ill to travel to UHS but did call them to describe her symptoms.
John L. Nichols '79 said yesterday he felt bad enough early Monday morning to go to UHS emergency clinic in Holyoke Center. He said he was told to go home and stay in bed, and not to take his Math la, "Introduction to the Calculus," exam yesterday morning if he still felt ill.
Nichols said he returned to UHS yesterday morning to get an excuse for his exam, and that about five other Holmes residents, also seeking excuses from other exams because of their illnesses, accompanied him.
He said that during one of his UHS visits he was questioned by Charles J. Krauss, sanitary inspector for UHS, about the possibility that his ailment was the result of food eaten at the Holmes Dining Hall on Saturday.
Krauss said yesterday that the matter is being investigated, but that he does not know how long the investigation will take.
Postel said the search was concentrating on two possibilities: a viral or bacterial flu unrelated to food and a bacterial or toxic food poisoning.
Most of the ill students contacted yesterday said they believe the illness is not related to food, but that it is just a highly contagious "flu bug."
Although Postel characterized the disease as "very mild," one Holmes freshman said she vomited every hour for 12 hours on Monday.