Dear Parent or Guardian and Staff,
Deschutes County Health Department has become aware that an unusual number of students at Sisters High School are absent because of vomiting and diarrhea. The Health Department and school nurse are investigating the situation. From the information we have at this point, it appears the illness might be caused by norovirus.
What is Norovirus? This is a common but highly contagious infection causing vomiting or diarrhea. This virus is spread through food, water, or close contact with infected people or things they have touched. Illness usually occurs two or three days after being exposed. Exposed persons are contagious about 48 hours before experiencing symptoms.
Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Some people may have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. The illness is usually brief, with symptoms lasting about 1 or 2 days.
How serious is it? Norovirus disease is usually not too serious, although people may feel very sick and vomit many times a day. Most people get better within 1 or 2 days. However, some persons may become dehydrated and may need medical attention, especially those with medical conditions. If you do become ill and seek medical care, we encourage you to submit a stool testing it identify which germ is causing your illness.
If you think you have this infection, the following will help you and help prevent others from getting sick:
- Stay home to rest for at least 48 hours after the vomiting and diarrhea have stopped and you are feeling better.
- Sip fluids frequently as tolerated. ½ strength apple juice, sports fluids, flat lemon lime soda, or popsicles can help to prevent dehydration.
- WASH HANDS FREQUENTLY: Rub all surfaces of hands with soap, rub lathered hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, and then thoroughly rinse the hands under a stream of water.
- Wash hands after using the bathroom, cleaning, changing diapers, or before eating or preparing food. Avoid sharing towels, and if possible ask ill persons to use only one bathroom.
- Disinfect household surfaces with a bleach solution (1 part bleach mixed with 8 parts water) to prevent further transmission.
- Call your health provider if your symptoms last longer than three days, you have bloody diarrhea or a fever greater than 100.5, or you feel dehydrated.
We have also heard that family members of ill students have become ill with norovirus-like illness. Please be aware that those that are food handlers, work or attend daycare, or work as a healthcare provider and are ill with vomiting and diarrheal illness cannot work while they are symptomatic or until 48 hours after symptoms resolve.
If you have any questions, concerns, or need assistance, please contact the nurse with Deschutes County Health Department Disease Control Program at 541 617-4781.