Stomach Virus-Like Outbreak At Longview Elementary School Sickens Many; No School Friday
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GRANT COUNTY HEALTH DIST./MOSES LAKE, Wash. - Moses Lake School District and the Grant County Health District are investigating reports of a large number of students and staff experiencing symptoms of fever, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
These symptoms appear to be the result of an outbreak of stomach flu-like viral sickness (norovirus-like illness). At this time nearly 25% of students are sick. Moses Lake School District officials have chosen to close Longview Elementary on Friday, May 10, 2013.
Sick staff and children should remain at home for minimum of 48 hours after diarrhea and/or vomiting stop (it may be appropriate to remain home even longer if other symptoms persist). It is likely that more students or staff and possibly other community members will become ill in the near future, as norovirus-like illnesses are very infectious.
If you become sick with a stomach virus it is important to stay home, stay away from well family members, clean bathroom and surfaces after use, drink plenty of fluids, don't prepare food for others, and wash your hands often.
Symptoms of norovirus-like infections usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Those infected begin to fall ill about 24 – 48 hours after swallowing the virus, with a range of 12-48 hours. The sickness is usually brief, lasting only one to three days.
This virus is most commonly spread by eating contaminated foods or liquids, touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then placing hands in mouth, or having direct contact with a person who is infected and showing symptoms.
In order to prevent the spread of this virus in your home (and at school), follow these basic prevention strategies:
Wash hands with soap and warm water after using the toilet.
Wash hands with soap and warm water before handling food or ice.
Wash hands with soap and warm water before eating.
Refrain from food handling duties if currently ill and for 2 days after diarrhea and vomiting have stopped.
Discard foods that have been handled or prepared by someone who is, or has recently had, vomiting or diarrhea.
Promptly clean and disinfect any surfaces that become soiled with vomit or diarrhea.
To disinfect hard surfaces use soap and water to clean the surface first and then disinfect the clean surface with a freshly made 10% bleach solution (1 and a 1/2 cups of bleach to 1 gallon of water).
Handwashing with soap and warm water is the most effective way to remove norovirus from the hands and should be used when caring for a person with suspected or known norovirus. Hand sanitizers should not be used as a substitute for soap and water.
Additional measures are taking place at the school to prevent further spread of the illness. Health District staff are working closely with the Moses Lake School District and providing CDC recommended instructions, including those on cleaning and disinfecting the surfaces of the school. For additional information visit: www.cdc.gov/norovirus.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact or call Grant County Health District Moses Lake Office at 509-766-7960.
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