The cause of the infectious disease outbreak on Friday at East Marion Elementary School has been diagnosed as norovirus. Norovirus, also known as food poisoning, is a highly contagious illness that can be caused by consuming contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces.
The virus caused more than 200 students and faculty members at the elementary school to be sick with symptoms of vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
“In order to diagnose norovirus, we need to have test results from a lab. The illness outbreak has been ongoing at East Marion Elementary for a few days, but we finally were able to get someone to submit a test,” said Craig Ackerman, spokesman for Florida Department of Health in Marion County. “So we can confirm that it is indeed norovirus.”
“The most important thing is to stop the spread of the outbreak. … We’re going to need a community effort. We need to work together to keep kids and staff home until long after the symptoms have stopped,” he said.
Although symptoms may stop after one to two days without treatment, Ackerman said those infected should stay home for at least 24 hours after symptoms have stopped.
Staying hydrated and temporarily isolating those who are sick are keys to the school-wide recovery.
“Tell parents that health officials are saying just keep (students) home,” he said. “It’s not worth giving it to somebody else and reinfecting the school.” Ackerman said.