Published in the May 19, 2016 edition.
WAKEFIELD — A presumed norovirus is going through the Woodville School on Farm Street this week, keeping dozens of students and a few staff members home until their symptoms are gone for at least 48 hours.
Described as “super contagious” by Health Director Ruth Clay, the virus has caused nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Other symptoms can include headache, fever, chills and muscle aches. The symptoms usually begin one to two days after exposure to the virus and will last about one to two days in most people with no long-term effects, according to literature from the Mass. Dept. of Public Health.
Supt. of Schools Dr. Kim Smith was very careful not to release actual numbers of sick kids and faculty, but the Daily Item learned at least 100 were out of school yesterday and another two dozen were sent home. Today about half of the 420 students at the Woodvile were home sick.
“The majority of students and a vast majority of staff are there” in the school teaching and learning, Smith explained this morning.
In a memo sent to Woodville School families, Smith, Principal Michelle Zottoli and Director of Facilities and Transportation Maria Serrao write:
“We would like to thank all parents who have followed the Massachusetts Board of Health’s advisement to keep students at home until they are symptom free for 48 hours. These symptoms may include an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and/ or a fever.
“Yesterday after school, the district custodians cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized the classrooms, entire school, and playground. The bus company also sanitized the buses that transport the students.
“Classroom instruction continues today and teachers are focused on reinforcing/practicing skills so that students who are absent will not fall behind.
“The Director of Facilities, Maria Serrao, has coordinated another full sanitization protocol for this evening. We will consult with the Board of Health again today.
“Please continue to follow the Board of Health guidelines to keep children home until symptom free for 48 hours. Please contact us with any questions that you have.”
According to a DPH fact sheet, “Noroviruses are usually spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or drinks or by close contact with an infected person. Foods can become contaminated by infected food workers. Some foods, like oysters and berries, can be contaminated with (norovirus) before being delivered to a restaurant or store if they come in contact with contaminated water.”
Noroviruses are one of the most common causes of foodborne illness in the U.S.
There is no specific treatment for the norovirus. It cannot be treated with antibiotics and people ususally get better without medical attention in one to two days.
Ways an infection can be prevented include:
• Always washing your hands with soap and warm water before eating or preparing food, after using the bathroom or after changing diapers.
• Make sure all food preparation areas are clean before use.
• Cook food thoroughly and wash all fruits and vegetables.