Up to 50 students at Southern Heights Elementary School (located at 11249 14th Ave S.) may have been infected with norovirus, a flu-like illness most frequently associated with cruise ships and enclosed, crowded spaces. “Parents received an automated call last night that there were suspected cases of Norovirus at school and that they were working with public health officials and disinfecting the school,” one concerned parent told us on Thursday (Feb. 12). Protect Yourself and Others from Norovirus. She also added: “I just learned that 50 children called in sick today and they are primarily younger students that are ill.” According to the Center for Disease Control:

“Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed. This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up. These symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults.”
[youtube]http://youtu.be/p7KoIJMOufs[/youtube] Highline Public Schools sent home the following letter to parents, as well as a factsheet (download PDF here):
February 12, 2015 Dear Southern Heights Families, There has been an increase in student absences recently at our school. We have had reports that several students have been ill with vomiting and/or diarrhea. We are working with Public Heath – Seattle & King County because this is suspected to be norovirus which has symptoms similar to stomach flu. Attached, please find a fact sheet about norovirus infections from Public Health – Seattle & King County. Since norovirus infections are extremely contagious from person-to-person and can easily become an outbreak that affects many people, we have instituted the following recommendations of Public Health – Seattle & King County:
  1. We are keeping track of how many children are ill each day by classroom.
  2. We have instituted additional environmental cleaning and disinfection procedures and are cleaning and disinfecting doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, and commonly used items frequently.
  3. There will be no common sharing of food or classroom parties until this is controlled. Please do not send treats to school for your child’s classroom.
Because norovirus infection can be spread very easily in households as well as schools and other institutions, families should also practice diligence in washing their hands at home, thoroughly clean their home to prevent household transmission, and follow the guideline in the fact sheet about preventing norovirus illness. If your child becomes ill contact your health care provider. Be sure your child stays home until 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped. That is the best way to stop the spread of the virus. Sincerely, Aimée Denver, RN, M.Ed. Director Social and Health Services

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