1A ‘Stomach flu’ hits Lake City school
By Laura Gossman
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
LAKE CITY — Officials at Lake City’s Bluff View Elementary School suspect an outbreak of gastroenteritis, often called "stomach flu," is to blame for 76 students either missing or leaving school early on Thursday.
Nine students were home sick Tuesday with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping, but Wednesday was "the first alarming day" when 62 students missed school, said school nurse Johanna Majerus.
As a precautionary measure, the school canceled today’s Grandparent’s Day, moving it to Nov. 14.
Majerus sent a letter home to parents asking them to contact her if their children have been sick within the last week, so Minnesota Department of Health officials can keep a log of everyone who has become ill. The elementary school has about 660 students.
Department of Health spokesman Doug Schultz said no specific source for the illness has been found and that it has likely been transmitted person-to-person.
He said the norovirus season usually starts in October and ends in January or February.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, norovirus infections cause gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach and the small and large intestines.
The illness usually begins suddenly and symptoms are gone within one or two days. The symptoms usually begin 24 to 48 hours after ingestion of the virus, but can appear as early as 12 hours after exposure.
It’s normally not a serious illness, but those who are sick can become dehydrated.
The infection is often mistakenly referred to as the "stomach flu," but it isn’t related to influenza, which is a respiratory illness.
Majerus is asking parents to keep their children home until they are symptom-free for 24 hours.
"The younger kids seem to be affected more by the illness, but that’s not alarming," Majerus said. "With younger kids, hygiene is less self-directed than it is with older kids."
Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people, so hand washing is important to help control the spread of the illness.
For more information, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks.
Lake City Public Schools http://www.lake-city.k12.mn.us
Minnesota Department of Health http://www.health.state.mn.us