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Norovirus Outbreak Affects 2 Pacifica Elementary Schools

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PACIFICA (KCBS) – School officials in Pacifica have taken steps to contain a Norovirus outbreak that has sickened more than 30 students at two different elementary schools over the past two weeks.

Most of the students who have fallen ill attend Ocean Shore Elementary School, and there have been a few cases at Ortega Elementary School since the bug first surfaced on May 8, said Superintendent Wendy Tukloff.

“We have our children who play sports after school together, and so we did have some students who came up with it at Ortega,” she said.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

Only a handful of students missed school on Friday, and some parents have praised the district for taking proactive steps to make sure children who got sick stayed out of school until they had fought what is commonly called the stomach flu.

“The other thing to watch for, I believe, is not to send them back too early,” said Tukloff, adding that students should not return to class unless they’ve been symptom free for 48 to 72 hours.

Vomiting diarrhea and stomach cramps are all typical of a Norovirus infection. The virus typically spreads in enclosed environments such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes.

Nearly 30 schools in Contra Costa County saw Norovirus outbreaks last winter. Even dormitory environments in rural settings can offer ideal conditions for stomach flu to spread, as happened in 2011 at Walker Creek Ranch in Marin.

Tukloff said the two schools affected in Pacifica were given a thorough scrubbing as advised by the San Mateo Health System’s Communicable Disease Control Program.

“We’ve done what they called a deep cleaning,” she said.

Letters advising of possible Norovirus exposure have been sent to parents of all children in the Pacifica School District, including those who use the district’s child care facility, Tukloff said, “so that they know this is happening, to prevent it from spreading.”

“We appreciate the fact that all parents are being vigilant about monitoring their child and making sure that they do not come to school if they’re ill.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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