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Norovirus Information

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This is to provide guidance concerning a virus that affects the gastrointestinal system (stomach and intestines).  The virus is called Norovirus and it affects the intestinal tract causing illness.  Symptoms of Norovirus illness are diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.   You may also experience body aches, headache, tiredness and low-grade fever.  Symptoms will typically last 24 to 60 hours and will go away on their own.  Norovirus outbreaks are common in schools and daycare facilities.  District nurses are seeing more than usual number of children experiencing these symptoms.  

This virus is very contagious and is spread through contaminated food or water, by contact with an infected person, or by contamination in the environment.  Humans are the only source for this virus.  Norovirus is present in the feces and/or vomit of infected persons and can be transmitted to others when hands are not thoroughly washed after having a bowel movement.  

Steps that can be taken to reduce the spread of the Norovirus:

At School:

• Student presenting to the nurse with the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, stomach pain will be sent home with instructions to stay home until 24 hours after symptoms have stopped.
• Teachers will remind students to wash their hands after toilet breaks and before eating.  Hands should be washed with warm soap and water 15-20 seconds.  During Norovirus outbreaks, washing hands with soap & water is preferable to using hand sanitizers.
• Staff, especially staff responsible for caring for diapered children or assist children in toileting should wash their hands frequently with soap and water.  

At Home:

• Frequently wash your hands, especially after toilet visits and changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.
• Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oyster before eating them.
• Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
• Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with the virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap).
• Flush or discard any vomitus and/or stool in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.  
• Persons who are infected with Norovirus should not prepare food while they have symptoms and for at least 2-3 days after they recover from their illness.  Food that may have been contaminated by an ill person should be disposed of properly.

There is no vaccine to prevent Norovirus infection.  And there is no drug to treat people who are infected with the virus.  Antibiotic drugs will not help if you have Norovirus infection.  This is because they fight against bacteria not viruses.  

Norovirus illness is usually brief in people who are otherwise healthy.  But, the infection can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea.  This can lead to dehydration (loss of too much water from the body). During Norovirus infection, young children, the elderly, and people with other illnesses are most at risk for dehydration.  Symptoms of dehydration in adults and children include a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up.  A dehydrated child may also cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.  Dehydration can be serious.  If you think you or your child or someone you are caring for is dehydrated, contact your healthcare provider.

Contact your school nurse or the District Nurse at 238-7815 if you have any questions.  References for this guidance can be accessed at www.idph,state.il.us  and www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/norovirus-qa.htm


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Mattoon Community Unit School District 21701 Charleston AvenueMattoon, IL  61938

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