Posted: Apr 4, 2013 5:05 PM by KBZK
BOZEMAN - A "significant number" of staff and students were absent from Emily Dickinson Elementary School on Wednesday and Thursday with symptoms consistent with Norwalk-like viruses, commonly known as noroviruses.
In a letter to parents and staff at the school, Gallatin City-County Health Department Health Officer Matt Kelley and Bozeman Public Schools Superintendent Rob Watson said the health department is investigating the illness.
On a typical day, about 20 students will be absent from school, but in the last two days, absentee numbers are two to three times that amount, Watson said.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. While officials can't say for sure what pathogen is causing the illness, symptoms are consistent with that of norovirusus, the letter states. There is no medical treatment for the disease, but it is important to drink plenty of liquids, the letter states, adding that most people typically feel better within one to two days.
"I wish to stress that we cannot definitively identify the cause of illness at Emily Dickinson. It is possible that the illness is being caused by a pathogen other than a norovirus. However, parents can take some simple precautions to protect their families no matter the pathogen causing this outbreak," the letter states.
In order to prevent transmission of illness, the school and health department advise families to follow these basic prevention strategies:
• Keep sick staff and children away from school for at least 24 hours after symptoms end.
• Wash hands after using the toilet, changing diapers, or cleaning up after a sick person.
• Wash hands before handling food or ice.
• Wash hands before eating.
• Washing hands with soap and water is the first choice to prevent transmission. Hand sanitizers should only be used if there is not access to soap and water, and then only sanitizers with an ethanol content greater than 60% should be used.
• Refrain from handling food if currently or recently ill.
• Discard foods that have been handled or prepared by someone who is or has recently had vomiting or diarrhea.
• Use a bleach solution to promptly clean and disinfect any surfaces that become soiled with vomit or diarrhea. (See Fact Sheet for proper dilution ratios. Timing of cleaning should be sensitive to students with asthma or other respiratory impairments.)
• Consult your health care provider if your child is sick.