Update of gastrointestinal illness at Bloom School

Late Sunday afternoon, March 11, the Winnebago County Health Department received notification from Illinois Department Public Health lab in Chicago that one of two specimens transported to Chicago Saturday, March 10, was positive for norovirus. Additional results were expected to be available from the IDPH laboratory late Monday aftern, March 12, that could confirm whether norovirus is the causative agent for the outbreak.

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that can cause gastroenteritis. Common symptoms are: vomiting, diarrhea and some stomach cramping. Less common symptoms are: low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea and tiredness. Children often vomit more than adults. Outbreaks occur more often where there are more people in a small area.

Winnebago County and the Rockford Public Schools continue to work together to investigate the factors relating to this outbreak. A number of additional calls have come in throughout the weekend with reports that may be related to this outbreak. March 12, Monday, a more complete update was expected. Bloom School was not in session on Monday, March 12, which school and health officials decided Friday as a precautionary measure.

How norovirus is spread

People can become infected with the virus by: eating food or drinking liquids infected with the virus; touching surfaces or objects infected; having person-to-person contact; being present when someone is vomiting; sharing food or eating from the same utensils; caring for a sick person; shaking hands; not washing hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating prepared food.

Most infections are not usually serious, and people recover within one to two days and have no long-term adverse health effects. To prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria of all sorts, wash hands thoroughly after each bathroom visit, and before preparing food. People who experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea should not attend school or work and should not handle food for others while ill.

from the issue March 14-20, 2007, issue

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