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Norovirus Confirmed In Southwest Idaho School Outbreak

UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences
Southwest District Health says good hand washing practices can help keep illnesses like norovirus at bay.

Norovirus has been found in samples from an outbreak at a Nampa Middle School two weeks ago. The Southwest District Health Department confirms two stool samples came back positive for the virus.

It started two weeks ago when children at Lone Star Middle School came down with vomiting and diarrhea. By that Thursday, more than 150 kids stayed home sick. The next day, close to 500 students missed class.

District Epidemiologist Raemi Nolevanko says two stool samples came back positive for norovirus. She says that’s consistent with the symptoms but it doesn’t mean everyone had norovirus. Other viruses may have played a role in the outbreak.

“Sometimes in larger outbreaks like this there could be multiple things going on. Just a couple samples is nothing definitive but it does help us match up some of the illness with what the laboratory results showed,” says Nolevanko.

She says norovirus is not just found on cruise ships. It’s actually a very common illness.

“This is a virus we see commonly among others in the community that regularly circulates. I don’t think it always goes diagnosed because it does self-resolve so quickly, but it is something we see in our communities often.”

Nolevanko doesn’t know how common norovirus is, because most people who get it think they have the 24-hour-stomach flu and never get tested. The Southwest Health District reports there was an outbreak of norovirus in January in a long-term care facility where 34 people got sick.

The disease spreads through feces, close contact, improper hand washing, and food contaminated by a sick person.

The Nampa School District says attendance at Lone Star is back to normal. The school and its busses have been disinfected.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio

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