Officials Confirm Case Of Norovirus In Orem

Sep 6, 2018, 7:00 PM | Updated: 9:26 pm

OREM, Utah – Hundreds of students stayed home from school as Utah County grappled to contain an outbreak of the norovirus that has now affected schools in three cities.

Officials with the Utah County Health Department said an elementary school student from Orem was tested at a doctor’s office Thursday and confirmed to have norovirus. Parents at Sharon Elementary School were notified of the confirmed case Thursday evening with a letter from the health department.

Previously, the outbreak was thought to be contained to Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain. Six schools in those cities reported an average absenteeism rate of around 10 percent on Thursday – double what’s normal, according to the Alpine School District.

District officials said there were also reports from several schools of children becoming ill during the school day and vomiting.

“You can be exposed to this within 100 feet of somebody who vomits, so it is pretty serious,” said Kimberly Bird, assistant to the superintendent of the Alpine School District.

The health department and school district have asked parents to keep students home as a precaution if they were nauseated or showing other early indications they are coming down with a gastrointestinal illness.

“Even if they just have an upset stomach, please keep them home while they are feeling ill, as it is possible that they may vomit while at school,” said a letter from the health department sent Thursday to parents in Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain.

The letter also asked that students not return to school until 72 hours after vomiting and diarrhea ends.

In order to get more accurate data on the number of illnesses, the school district asked parents to volunteer why their student was absent with the following choices:

  • My child is experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms
  • My child is not experiencing these symptoms, but I am keeping them home as a precaution.
  • My child is absent for other reasons (vacation, family event, other illness, etc.)

“That’s why we are trying to find out—of our 10 percent absenteeism—which of our absences really have the symptoms of vomiting, nausea and diarrhea,” Bird said. “We need you to report accurately on the reason why your child is being kept from home.”

In addition to being highly contagious, norovirus has a short incubation period with some people becoming ill in as little as 10 hours after being exposed, the health department said. Most display symptoms within three days.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment available for norovirus—other than to drink clear fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. Most people recover quickly and it’s rare to develop a more serious illness, the department said.

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Officials Confirm Case Of Norovirus In Orem