In a follow-up to a report last week concerning an outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness in the Person County Schools in North Carolina, health officials report laboratory testing results on samples analyzed.


Since Wednesday, September 2, the Person County Health Department has been working closely with the Person County Schools, the North Carolina Division of Public Health, and the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health to determine the cause of gastrointestinal illness outbreak that first became apparent at Person High School.

The Health Department submitted the samples received to date. Two of the samples tested at the State Laboratory of Public Health have returned positive for norovirus. While this is consistent with the type of illness reported, health officials need additional specimens to definitively confirm norovirus as the cause of the outbreak.

The Health Department is continuing to contact sick individuals in an attempt to collect samples for testing.

Local media reports the number of absences at Person County Schools grew to nearly 1,000 on Friday, two days after the outbreak was reported.

The Health Department encourages everyone to continue to be vigilant by hand washing with soap and warm water for 15 seconds. This is the most effective means of preventing the spread of viral illnesses.

An additional recommendation for those with gastrointestinal illnesses such as norovirus is to stay out of work or school until 48 hours after symptoms have resolved.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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