FAIR OAKS (CBS13) — The norovirus is something you hear about on cruise ships, but we are now hearing about it in local schools. In fact, one Fair Oaks Elementary school is shut down after a recent outbreak.
This is the first time an outbreak of this nature has happened in Sacramento County.
When a quarter of the students came down with the norovirus in the last two weeks and it didn’t show signs of stopping, authorities had to take action. More than 100 of the 450 students at Harry Dewey Fundamental Elementary School contracted norovirus in the past two weeks, forcing the school to shut down through at least Friday.
“That’s insane. So they did the right thing,” said Danny McElroy.
McElroy’s three kids go to Dewey. They spent Wednesday riding bikes and working on school projects.
“In a teacher’s classroom, there were 12 kids that were sick. It was really shocking,” said his son.
The norovirus can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration.
“It’s one of the most contagious viruses we have and only needs a few particles to get someone sick,” said Dr. Olivia Kasirye.
The virus can remain viable on surfaces for up to two days. That’s why it spreads so easily in close quarters, often causing huge outbreaks on cruise ships.
“The way it spreads is through water, food and on surfaces, or if people who are sick touch a surface, the virus can be passed on to other people,” Kasirye said.
To avoid any further transmission, the San Juan Unified School District is cleaning and disinfecting the entire campus for a second time this week.
“Maintenance and operations is out there cleaning every surface, disinfecting every surface, hitting hit spots like bathrooms, things that get touched a lot, desks, computers,” said district spokesperson Raj Rai.
Kasirye said the only thing that gets rid of the virus is bleach.
As a further precaution, the health department is advising students and staff to not just sanitize hands but wash with soap and warm water.
All activities at Dewey are canceled over the weekend. The health department is advising parents that students need to be virus-free for 48 hours before returning to class. But keep in mind, the virus can harbor in the body for weeks.