Norovirus discovered at local elementary school
WESTON, Fla. -- An illness that is usually contracted on a cruise ship is being blamed for sending dozens of students home sick last week from a South Florida elementary school.
"So, Manatee Bay, as you know, several hundred students went home last week with an illness," said Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.
After hundreds of students came down with a severe illness last Friday, health officials are now saying the highly contagious stomach bug norovirus is to blame. "That was a result of what we now know as some virus, some intestinal virus," said Runcie.
On Wednesday, 88 kids were still missing from the classroom at Manatee Bay elementary school, despite the school receiving a thorough cleaning on Sunday.
One worried parent kept his daughter home after she began experiencing symptoms. "She was having nausea and vomiting and severe belly ache," said Steadly Foster, "so she's home resting."
Even more students were forced to leave Tuesday after experiencing similar symptoms. "I heard there were 300 kids out sick, and they're saying that's a lot of kids," said parent Natalie Castillo.
Runcie, however, assures that virus is not spreading to other students. "We believe that it's under control. It's contained, and we encourage our parents and our students and faculty to make sure they wash their hands and follow proper sanitary procedures," he said.
Officials sent out a letter to parents that reads in part: "Please be assured that we are taking all possible preventative actions including encouraging, reinforcing proper hand washing and conducting thorough cleaning of classrooms."
Dr. Maya Dominguez of Broward Health Center said, "If the child is severe and doesn't stop, the child becomes lethargic and is not tolerating anything by mouth, the child needs to see the pediatrician."
The school said they will continue taking all precautions possible but are advising parents to keep encouraging their kids to wash their hands. "It's under control. I would suggest to parents if your child is not feeling well, keep them at home until they're ready to come back," said Runcie. "We'll recover from this and move forward."
A spokesperson from the Broward School District added that students should remain home until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours.
The school will also continue to use bottled water, hold recess indoors and have lunch in classrooms.
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