Spike in school absences in Olmsted County likely due to norovirus
An increased number of children and staff are out of school with symptoms likely related to the spread of norovirus, local health officials said Thursday.
Without giving an exact number of cases, Olmsted County Public Health Services said it has been monitoring a spike in absences due to symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea for the last few weeks, particularly in elementary schools.
According to a news release from the department:
Norovirus is a common cause of gastroenteritis (often called stomach flu). Symptoms of this virus generally include nausea, severe vomiting and/or diarrhea which can last one to two days. The virus spreads when infected people, who may not even know they are infected, do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. The virus can then be transferred easily to food or surfaces where other people can pick it up. Symptoms occur 24-48 hours after contracting the virus, making it a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. In addition to norovirus, schools are also reporting Influenza-Like Illnesses.
Health officials recommend the following practices to protect yourself and others from norovirus and other contagious viruses:
- Wash your hands. Handwashing is the number one way to protect yourself and others.
- Avoid food handling duties if currently or recently ill.
- Throw away foods that have been handled or prepared by someone who is or has recently had vomiting or diarrhea unless it will be thoroughly cooked before serving.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of vomiting or diarrhea by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
- Keep ill children and staff away from school and other activities for one full day after symptoms resolve
More on information on the virus can be found on Mayo Clinic's website.
(Cover graphic: CC)