The Southern Nevada Health District has confirmed norovirus as the cause of an outbreak in one local school. School officials made the decision to self-close so that in-depth cleaning could be conducted. Another local school that was experiencing an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness also self-closed to clean its facility. The Health District is working with the second school to obtain appropriate information and specimens. Prior to these investigations, small outbreaks of norovirus and suspected outbreaks have been reported to the Health District. In addition to investigating reports of illness, Health District staff is working with schools to ensure they have appropriate cleaning protocols and other measures in place to stop the spread of illnesses in their facilities.
Gastrointestinal viruses, like norovirus, are common and easily spread from person-to-person. Symptoms usually develop 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus. Most people will get better within one to three days, without medical treatment. Young children, older adults, and people with other medical conditions may be more at risk for complications, such as dehydration. The most common symptoms of norovirus include nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Additional symptoms may include fever, headache, and body aches. Norovirus is sometimes referred to as a “stomach bug” or “stomach flu.” However, it is a virus unrelated to the influenza (flu) virus.
Regular and appropriate handwashing is one of the most effective prevention methods for reducing the spread of norovirus and other illnesses. People who are ill, or caring for someone who is ill, should wash their hands carefully with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food. Sick people should not prepare food or care for others. Hands should be dried with disposable paper towels. Hands should always be washed after using the toilet, changing diapers, or washing soiled clothes or bedding. Norovirus can be found in vomit or stool before someone feels sick and for two weeks or more after symptoms subside. It is important to incorporate proper hand hygiene into a routine to reduce the spread of illness throughout the year.
Hard, non-porous surfaces that have been contaminated by an ill person should be cleaned, and then disinfected immediately with a chlorine bleach solution made by adding 5-25 tablespoons of household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) to one gallon of water. For other disinfectants registered as effective against norovirus see the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Registered Antimicrobial Products Effective against Norovirus webpage.
For additional information about norovirus visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/norovirus/preventing-infection.html and the Health District website at www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/health-topics/norovirus.php.
Access information about the Southern Nevada Health District on its website: www.SNHD.info. Follow the Health District on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SouthernNevadaHealthDistrict, YouTube: www.youtube.com/SNHealthDistrict, and Twitter: www.twitter.com/SNHDinfo. The Health District is available in Spanish on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TuSNHD. Don’t have a Twitter account? Follow the Health District on your phone by texting “follow SNHDinfo” to 40404. Additional information and data can be accessed through the Healthy Southern Nevada website: www.HealthySouthernNevada.org.