The mysterious illness that sickened more than 100 at a Lamar County, Alabama school recently has been identified as norovirus, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) Monday.
The gastrointestinal outbreak swept through South Lamar School in Millport last week sending a large number of students home sick.
Health officials say the school cooperated fully with the investigation. The school acted quickly, and carried out a cleaning process last Wednesday night. Cafeteria food specimens and menus have been obtained, there has been an environmental assessment, and additional patient specimens have been requested.
Dr. Albert White, Area Health Officer and Infectious Disease specialist, states, “Persons who are ill with vomiting and diarrhea should stay home until they are well. They should not prepare food for others while ill.” In addition, White states that hand washing and environmental cleaning are very important measures to reduce the spread of norovirus to others.
Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.
The symptoms include nausea,vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever,chills,headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.
Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.
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