Norovirus Outbreak Reported at Arlington Public Schools

Parents of Arlington public school students were told today that “one or more outbreaks of norovirus have been confirmed in schools in Arlington.”

It’s the second publicly reported norovirus outbreak at Arlington Public Schools so far this year. In February a norovirus outbreak was reported at two Arlington schools.

So far, APS has not responded to calls and emails for comment. Earlier this year, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia described the February outbreak as “nothing unusual” and noted that previous outbreaks did not result in any student requiring hospitalization.

The Arlington Department of Human Services sent the following letter to APS parents today.

Dear APS Families:

This communication is being sent to let you know that one or more outbreaks of NOROVIRUS have been confirmed in schools in Arlington. This virus spreads very quickly and easily and there is no vaccine or medicine for it. Even if your school has not been affected, prevention is essential!

FACTS:  Norovirus causes “gastroenteritis”, or infection of the stomach and/or intestines. The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms typically resolve in a few days, although in rare cases the outcome can be more serious.

HOW IT SPREADS:  These pathogens are HIGHLY contagious through contact with an infected person’s vomit or stool, or through contact with contaminated food or objects.

PLEASE DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL IF:

  • You know or suspect that your child has a fever or is ill. Please delay sending her/him to school and take the time to feel certain that she/he is well enough to participate in school activities.
  • Your child has vomited the night before, or in the morning before going to school.
  • Your child has diarrhea, stomach pain or cramping.
  • Your child complains of generally not feeling well.
  • Your child has any combination of the above symptoms.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

Make sure your child washes their hands frequently and thoroughly before meals or food preparation, after meals, after using the bathroom, and anytime their hands get dirty. Use soap and warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” TWICE).

IF SYMPTOMS DEVELOP:  Please keep your child at home and inform the school. For additional guidance, contact your healthcare provider and provide them with a copy of this letter.  Your child will need to remain at home until they are free from symptoms for one entire day (24 hours).

WHAT WE ARE DOING:  School Health, which is part of the Public Health Department, is working closely with Arlington Public Schools to identify cases and to prevent the spread of the disease

WARNING:  Monitor for signs of dehydration if your child is unable to keep fluids down.

MORE INFORMATION:  If you want to read more, information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/faq.htm.

QUESTIONS:  If you have questions, please contact the nurse in your child’s school clinic or visit the School Health Bureau’s website at www.apsva.us/schoolhealth.

Sincerely,

Marian D. Harmon, MSN, RN
School Health Bureau Chief

Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH
Public Health Physician


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