The famed winter vomiting virus appears to be making life miserable for Nevada school kids. According to the Reno Gazette Journal over 1700 students in 20 schools have had the virus over the past 5 weeks and the outbreak appears to be spreading.
The case count might be real or it might be inflated due to self reporting (kids who want to stay home) or protective parents who don’t want noro in their house (keeping their kids home).
An outbreak of norovirus has reached such heights in local public schools that health officials stopped counting the number of people infected by the highly contagious illness, which causes days of diarrhea and vomiting.
But the Washoe County Health District estimates – based on schools’ absenteeism and reported illnesses – that 1,760 students and staff have been afflicted at 20 schools and a few daycare centers, quadrupling the number of infections since the outbreak started at half as many schools on Oct. 1.
“We were hopeful it wouldn’t get to this point,” said county Director of Epidemiology Randall Todd, noting the virus’ rapid spread to a new school every few days.
The health district has advised the Washoe County School District and families to do three things at outbreak schools, which are concentrated in northern Reno, Spanish Springs and Sparks. The health district isn’t identifying the affected daycare centers.
Disinfect high-traffic areas of the school where surfaces are repeatedly touched, such as railings, desks, chairs and doors. Thoroughly clean and disinfect the area around a vomiting incident up to a 25-foot radius.
Wash hands frequently with soap and water — antibacterial hand-sanitizer does not kill the virus.
Sick students and staff must stay out of school for 72 hours after their last symptoms.
Such a “substantial outbreak” wouldn’t be possible if parents and staff were following all three protocols advised for outbreak schools, said Todd, positing that at least one recommendation isn’t being followed.
The health district hasn’t recommended closing any schools, and school officials said they don’t want to go there either for the sake of academics.
But they’re in luck. The week-long fall break starts Monday.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that fall break will give us the boost we need to put this behind us,” said Todd.