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The Lincoln County School District (LCSD) notified parents of a possible viral gastroenteritis outbreak at multiple Lincoln City Schools.

Students and staff at Taft 7-12, Taft Elementary and Oceanlake Elementary have seen a recent uptick in gastroenteritis, commonly associated with norovirus, which is sometimes called the ‘stomach flu,’ says Lincoln County School District Nurse Arika Zimmerman RN.

“We are working closely with the Lincoln County School District in response to this increase in illness,” Zimmerman said in a letter to parents. “In an effort to prevent further spread of this illness, we have decided to sanitize all of the north area schools.”

Zimmerman said all viruses are easily transmitted through food, by person-to-person contact or through contaminated surfaces. Therefore, LCSD is urging families to take caution if one of their family members is affected because the virus spreads easily in the home.

Signs and symptoms of this virus include a low-grade fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping, headache, weakness and muscle aches

“Symptoms can begin as early as 12 hours after exposure to the virus or as late as 48 hours,” Zimmerman states. “The symptoms of norovirus usually last one to two days. In most cases, ill persons fully recover without medical attention.”

However, Zimmerman notes that a norovirus infection can result in hospitalization due mainly to dehydration, especially in the very young and elderly. Those with severe diarrhea should drink lots of liquids. Symptoms that are not seen with norovirus infection are bloody diarrhea or high fever. If these symptoms develop, we advise contacting your medical provider.

Zimmerman advises children and staff exhibiting symptoms of viral gastroenteritis should be excluded from school or other group activities until 24 hours after their symptoms have stopped.

“The best way to limit the spread of these viruses is frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm running water, being sure to completely clean all areas of hands and under fingernails,” Zimmerman said for prevention methods. “Preventing contamination of food, drinks, water and ice is also very important. People who have been sick with norovirus-like symptoms should not prepare or serve food to others for at least three days after their symptoms are gone.

“It’s important to know that most household cleaners are ineffective against norovirus and bleach is the only reliable means of disinfection.”

More information about norovirus and how to limit its spread can be found at www.cdc.gov/norovirus/about/prevention.

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