Over 100 students sick after norovirus outbreak

May 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
In Pacifica, a norovirus outbreak has sickened more than a hundred students. The San Mateo County Health Department confirms the virus hit Ocean Shore Elementary.

San Mateo County Health officials tell ABC7 News that they have a lab-confirmed outbreak of norovirus and school officials are working to stop it in its tracks.

"They have a policy here, 'if you throw-up, you go home,'" said Carl Tanner, a father.

And that's exactly what happened to Tanner's son, after the San Mateo Health Department sent a lab sample to the state, it was confirmed that there was an outbreak of the norovirus, but this dad knew something was up right away, because the virus didn't stop with his son.

"Then my daughter, she got it. She stayed home, same thing," said Tanner.

To date, there are at least 105 students affected by flu-like symptoms, ranging from diarrhea to stomach cramps.

Student Tyler Tanner says he avoided getting sick, because he listened to his teacher.

"You touch anything that might have germs, you have to go wash your hands," said Tyler.

Most of the students who got sick were students at Ocean Shore Elementary, but there were a few reported cases at Ortega Elementary. Administrators say that students from the two schools often play together and signs of the virus first appeared around 10 days ago. Since then, they have worked feverishly to rid all surfaces of the virus, giving everything a thorough scrub-down.

"We are swabbing down desk tops every day, chairs, anything that is commonly used by multiple children," said Virginia Szczepaniak, a teacher at Ocean Shore Elementary.

Today was the second day of a school-wide cleaning, steps they say that they're more than happy to take.

"It's a community here and so we all try and do what we can," said Szczepaniak. One teacher says the schools have stayed open the entire time because parents have been proactive in keeping sick children at home.

Health officials warn you shouldn't send students who have symptoms of the virus back to school too early. It is recommended that you remain symptom free for 48-72 hours before you send your child back to school.


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