Norovirus impacting schools in Utah, local districts issue caution

Norovirus under a microscope

Hundreds of students all over the Wasatch Front have been hit with the norovirus, a highly contagious illness that affects the gastrointestinal system. The virus spreads quickly, particularly in areas where a lot of people are grouped together, like schools, cruise ships and nursing homes. It does not appear that the virus has spread to Cache Valley yet, but school administrators are trying to be proactive to prevent an outbreak.

On Thursday, the Cache County School District sent a notification to all parents of students in the district, offering advice on how to identify the virus and prevent its spread.

“After consulting with the Bear River Health Department,” the notice says, “we are asking parents to keep sick children home to prevent spreading the illness at school, if they have any of the following symptoms: stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, may or may not have a headache or fever.

“If your child has any of these symptoms, we ask that you do not send him/her to school until 72 hours after vomiting and diarrhea have ended. Even if they just have an upset stomach, please keep your sick child home while they are feeling ill, as it is possible that they may vomit while at school.”

The district school nurses also ask that if a sick child has siblings who may attend different schools, that they be kept home as well if they experience similar symptoms.

To help prevent the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage you to practice good hand hygiene – washing hands frequently with soap – and to carefully wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. If you or someone in your household does get sick, the CDC says to quickly and thoroughly clean and disinfect areas affected by vomit or diarrhea.

Information on the norovirus, its symptoms and how quickly it can spread, can be found here: Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Information about Norovirus.

The CDC has also produced a short video with information about how to properly sanitize and clean up after someone who has been hit with the virus.

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