An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness has struck a Town and Country elementary school, which required sending at least 140 children home sick, according to local media reports.


The outbreak is at Lowry Elementary School in Hillsborough County and several children did test positive for norovirus.

School officials say the building has received a “deep cleaning” and are asking parents whose kids caught the virus to keep them out of school for an additional 48 hours even after the symptoms go away just to be safe.

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.

Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually in the US, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.