Josey George on Gastroenteritis

By Samantha Carvallo

April 2022

What you do in the bathroom is not something that people like to talk about, but senior applied health science major Josey George got personal while talking about gastroenteritis at the 2022 Piedmont Symposium. 

“Gastroenteritis is a disease caused by pathogens that enter the stomach through contaminated water or spoiled food,” said George. “It was surprising to find how common this disease is in third-world countries. There are roughly 582 million cases per year.”

George went on to add what the effects of gastroenteritis are–dehydration, malnutrition, shock, comas or potentially death–and what treatment options are available for people who have been contaminated with this disease. She also mentioned how gastroenteritis is passed between individuals and the most common symptoms: abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea or fever. George conducted her research along with several other medical microbiology students under the guidance of Biology Professor Dr. Julia Schmitz. 

“[My] students have worked on these projects all semester long,” said Schmitz. “They researched everything about the disease, starting with the causative agent, the symptoms, the number of people who come down with this disease every year, how to treat, prevent it and what happens if left untreated.”

While gastroenteritis is a common stomach flu, Josey George was able to explain her research thoroughly to her audience in a way that wasn’t overwhelming. This is something most health science majors need to know how to do in their career fields, so any health concerns can be explained to the general public.

“For our presentations, we had to design a pamphlet that was written at a high school reading level because that’s what the general public can normally read,” said George. “After my presentation, I hoped my audience learned how to be careful about their water sources they drink from and how to properly store their food.” 

The Medical Microbiology presentations at this year’s Symposium were deemed successful by Schmitz. Her students, like George, had found multiple sources to aid their findings and were able to get through a variety of different diseases within their given time frame. 

“My students did an awesome job and even found information I didn’t know about the different diseases,” said Schmitz. “I also had some students do a disease I hadn’t known about prior to their presentation so I am able to learn from my own students – which I love.”

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