30 residence students sent to hospital; Toronto Public Health investigating

by | Jan 20, 2017 | Campus News, North

Neha Lobana
Life Editor

Thursday night at around 9:30 p.m., paramedics arrived on the scene to Humber College’s North campus Residence building on Humber College Boulevard after a number of students reported feeling ill.

Humber’s Dean of Students Jen McMillen said that it’s known that 77 students have been reported with symptoms of vomiting and abdominal pain, while 30 were transported to hospital.

“We don’t know what the source is, so we’ve been in contact with the local hospital and they’ve confirmed with us that they haven’t determined what the source of the illness is. So certainly (in) a high-density living environment like residence, there are students who come in close contact with one another,” said McMillen on Friday during a press conference.

McMillen told reporters that students who were transported to area hospitals were treated and released and are continuing to return to residence.

Although food poisoning hasn’t been ruled out as a cause, food is still being served on campus as McMillen says that the decision is ultimately up to Toronto municipal health authorities.

“I’m not sure if any decisions have been made but certainly we need to ensure that we work around containment as much as possible. So, we don’t have any information to suggest the investigation is ongoing with regards to the appropriate people who would make the decision. It wouldn’t be up to us to rule out food poisoning, it is up to the health inspector who is providing that information,” said McMillen.

According to Associate Medical Officer of Health, Michael Finkelstein, Toronto Public Health food safety inspectors have begun an investigation of the food on campus premises and will take appropriate measures based on their findings.

“The investigation includes contacting hospitals where students were seen and talking to the on-site health services at the college where this residence is located, and reaching out to the students who have reported they were ill today to gather more information. Such as where they ate, what food they ate before they became ill and if they attended any specific functions where food was served before they became ill,” said Finkelstein.

While investigations are undergoing, some students who live on residence say that they were not affected by the illness, but witnessed others in the building feeling sick.

“I was watching a guy yesterday, he was not happy and he is on my floor, he was very sick, I definitely think it’s food poisoning, absolutely. Last year I know that there were iffy things with the caf food, nothing has changed so I’m not surprised something happened this year,” said Creative Photography student, Saige Eitman.

Humber students are now finding that hygiene and food preparation may be a concern when it comes to campus food.

“They have to be more careful with the food that they cook because that’s a lot of people [that got sick]. It could’ve been worse. It could’ve been during the day and it would’ve been much more than 80 people. They have to carefully examined [the food]. They have to go over their food, make sure nothing’s wrong with it, nothing’s rotten. Got to make sure it’s cooked good because there’s a lot of food out there that can give you [food poisoning],” said second-year Civil Engineering student, Kyle McIntosh.

In the meantime, Humber is encouraging students to engage in health hygiene practices and advises anyone experiencing symptoms to seek medical assistance. Non-emergency health services are available to students, faculty and staff at North campus’ Student Wellness Centre on the second floor of the LRC until 4:30 p.m. today.


With files from Humber News