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Vegas Health Officials Investigating Norovirus Outbreaks

LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – The Southern Nevada Health District has confirmed that it was norovirus in a pair of recent Las Vegas area outbreaks — and now, investigators are searching for the cause.

The gastrointestinal illness known as norovirus actually closed two valley schools recently. The first confirmed case was at Somerset Academy in North Las Vegas, where school officials then closed for two days as a precaution. The norovirus outbreak hit again at Imagine Schools at Mountain View in Las Vegas. School officials there said about 10 percent of the 670 students called in sick, prompting the closure of the school for two days.

The Southern Nevada Health District has confirmed that it was norovirus as the cause in both incidents.

Prior to the health district’s investigations, small outbreaks of norovirus and suspected outbreaks have been reported to the Health District. In addition to investigating reports of illness, Health District staff worked with schools to make sure they have appropriate cleaning protocols and other measures in place to stop the spread of illnesses in their facilities.

Gastrointestinal viruses, like norovirus, are common and easily spread from person-to-person. Symptoms usually develop 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus. Most people will get better within one to three days, without medical treatment. Small children, older adults and people with other medical conditions may be more at risk for complications, such as dehydration. The most common symptoms of norovirus include nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other symptoms may include fever, headache, and body aches. Despite its name norovirus IS NOT related to influenza.

Officials with SNHD said regular and appropriate hand washing is one of the most effective prevention methods for reducing the spread of norovirus and other illnesses. People who are sick, or caring for someone who is sick, should wash their hands carefully with soap and water before, during and after preparing food. Sick people should not prepare food or care for others. Hands should be dried with disposable paper towels. Hands should always be washed after using the toilet, changing diapers, or washing soiled clothes or bedding.

Norovirus can be found in vomit or stool before someone feels sick and for two weeks or more after symptoms subside. It’s also important to incorporate proper hand hygiene into a routine to reduce the spread of illness throughout the year.

More from Fred Halstied
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