Norovirus outbreak at Lakeville schools

- Officials in Lakeville are hoping the holiday break stops the spread of norovirus among students.

Hundreds of students have been absent in recent days because of concerns about the virus at two schools: Cherry View Elementary and Century Middle School.

District officials called the Minnesota Department of Health to investigate the source of the outbreak, which is believed to have started at the elementary school last week. They also moved quickly to ensure surfaces at the school were sanitized.

“We’ve done analysis that suggests it was not foodborne transmission, so food did not play a role,” said Amy Saupe, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health. “So likely what happened was kids came to school while they were sick."

Along with vomiting, diarrhea is the most common symptom of norovirus. It’s usually pretty short in duration, about 24 to 48 hours. But that can be long enough to spread to others in your home.
Lakeville school officials also said there are reports of students at nearby Century Middle School coming down with norovirus.

“That looks that could be a secondary incident to the original school event,” Saupe said. “That’s not uncommon at all to see.”

Shaupe says norovirus is often confused for influenza, but since norovirus is not airborne, it can much simpler to stop it in its tracks. 

“We can do the handwashing; we can make sure people stay home while they’re sick,” she said.

Saupe said there are about 100 outbreaks of norovirus each year in Minnesota. The season runs roughly from November to early Spring.

There is a hotline to report foodborne and waterborne illness at 651-201-5655 or 1-877-FOOD-ILL. Reports can also be filed online at health.state.mn.us/foodill.

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