University of Maryland students have expressed concern about mold issues in their dorms after a freshman student died of adenovirus, which causes respiratory problems.
Olivia Paregol, 18, developed a cough that worsened to pneumonia and later died at Johns Hopkins Hospital on Nov. 18, CBS News reported. She died less than three weeks after the school learned she had the virus.
The University of Maryland confirmed five other students have illnesses linked to the adenovirus.
Jessica Thompson said she and fellow roommates found mold on their shoes and clothes while they were in their dorm rooms in August of this year, and she believes the mold caused the illness.
“You can’t sleep at night because the pillow is right next to mold and you’re up all night coughing,” Thompson told the network. “We got to go home on the weekends and we would be totally fine at home, and we would come back and would be sniffling and coughing and then have headaches.”
Thompson and other students told the university about the mold, and they were sent to temporary housing while the school dealt with the mold problems, CBS reported.
“They had put in a dehumidifier, and the heat had finally turned on and the mold seemed to go away, but it was a good two and a half months,” she added.
Ian Paregol, Olivia’s father, said the teen’s dorm had mold, telling the Baltimore Sun, “If they would have known a week earlier, I think there would have been a different result.”
Olivia Paregol’s dorm was one of the dorms that was evacuated earlier this year. “Every kid in that dorm is sick,” he continued. “This should never have happened.”
His daughter had Crohn’s disease and a weakened immune system before she contracted the virus, CBS reported. “It didn’t help the illness. I think that’s a really fair statement. We don’t know that there’s causation, yet, but it didn’t help things,” Ian Paregol said.
The University of Maryland said it learned of the adenovirus case on Nov. 1, and several days ago, it confirmed there were six cases, including Olivia’s.
“I want the other kids to make sure they don’t get sick. I mean … apparently there were two kids sick when we came forward, right? That was the 13th. I would’ve liked to have had that information. And now there’s three more kids sick,” Ian said.
Dr. David McBride, head of the university’s campus health center, said he could not confirm the seven other cases Ian Pargol made reference to.
“What we’ve done is we’ve stepped up our cleaning efforts, we’re on high alert here and we’re working to be very diligent to follow up on cases when students are sick to make sure that they don’t worsen,” he was quoted by CBS as saying.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Adenoviruses are common viruses that cause a range of illness. They can cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye (conjunctivitis).”
“You can get an adenovirus infection at any age. People with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are more likely than others to get very sick from an adenovirus infection,” the agency says.