Thirty-two Union College students have been infected with Giardiasis, an intestinal disease often contracted in bodies of water containing the Giardia parasite, and other students are showing symptoms, college officials reported in a message to the school community Friday.
The infections started earlier this month, with college officials on Oct. 14 first noting the presence of the disease on campus and on Oct. 16 informing the school community 18 students had been infected, according to the Concordiensis, the Union College student newspaper.
By Friday, the count of infected students had topped 30 and, and college officials were still working with the Schenectady County Department of Health to investigate the source of the infections.
Cases have been confirmed in both on-campus and off-campus housing among students known to share the same social groups, according to the Friday message sent to students by Fran’Cee Brown-McClure, Union’s vice president for student affairs and the dean of students. Some of the more recent cases may have been the result of person-to-person transmission through close contact, according to the message.
Giardiasis, which is often contracted by swallowing water containting the Giardia parasite, can cause diarrhea, gas, cramps, nausea and dehydration and persist for up to six weeks. The infection can also be transmitted through close personal contact.
Some of the infected students said that they had swam in one or more bodies of water not designated for recreational activity, including the Hans Groot’s Kills, a stream that runs through campus, and the Plotterkill County Nature Preserve in Rotterdam. The Friday message to students reiterated that students should not swim in unregulated bodies of waters.
Students showing any of the symptoms were asked to report to the student health services on campus. The outbreak of infections comes as the college continues to take precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus, largely successfully. As of Sunday, the college had reported 12 positive cases out of over 15,000 tests conducted on campus, including a new student testing positive on Saturday and 24 total students in quarantine as of Saturday, according to the college’s online COVID-19 reporting dashboard.