ORIGINAL STORY: On Friday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department released a shocking report saying they suspect a possible Norovirus outbreak in several northern Santa Barbara County Schools.
Schools in the Orcutt School District, which include Alice Shaw, Joe Nightingale, Patterson Road, Pine Grove and Ralph Dunlap schools, as well as Manzanita Charter School on Vandenberg Air Force Base, are reporting numerous cases of gastrointestinal symptoms consistent with the norovirus, according to the Public Health Department.
While it's not 100 percent known if the Norovirus is to blame for these cases of gastrointestinal symptoms, health officials say the outbreaks are very likely Norovirus and the Public Health Department is working on conducting appropriate lab testing.
All of the schools involved are working with the Public Health Department and implementing cleaning methods and other necessary measures to stop the spread of the virus, the report says.
The Santa Barbara Health Department says despite Norovirus peaking in the winter months (January/February), they have been seeing more outbreaks of Norovirus in the spring time months throughout the state.
Norovirus is known for sweeping through schools, office buildings and other close quarters while infecting a large number of people. Symptoms typically begin about 24 to 48 hours after close exposure to Norovirus but can appear as early as 12 hours after exposure.
The following is information released by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department in their report related to Norovirus:
People may feel very sick and vomit multiple times and/or have many loose stools a day. Most people get better within 1 or 2 days, and they have no long-term health effects related to their illness. However, shedding of the virus may continue for 1-2 weeks. At times, affected individuals, usually the very young and elderly may become dehydrated as they are unable to drink enough liquids to replace the liquids lost because of vomiting and diarrhea.
The spread of Norovirus can be prevented by practicing proper hand hygiene. Important strategies include washing hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating and preparing or handling food. The community should be aware that with these reported outbreaks folks should use good hand hygiene and stay home if sick until 48-hours without symptoms.
For more information on the Norovirus, click here.