Virus sickens hundreds at Hudson Elementary School

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It’s been a rough few days for students at Hudson Elementary School

Since Thursday, there have been more than 200 reported absences at the school due to a stomach bug making students and teachers sick.

Wednesday, 100 students and about a dozen staff called out sick.

The school district says the illness appeared to have started spreading on Thursday. By Friday, more than 130 students and a dozen teachers called in sick.

Between Monday and Tuesday, 105 students and 20 teachers called out sick. On Monday night, school officials canceled an after-school event, citing a possible norovirus outbreak, although the cause has not been confirmed. 

In a post on Facebook, Hudson Elementary school said Monday “We are seeing a high number of reported symptoms of the noro virus (sic),” but has since changed the post to reference a "GI" or gastrointestinal illness.

“If your child has symptoms such as headache, stomachache, extreme tiredness, low grade fever, vomiting or diarrhea please keep them home 24 hours after symptoms after clear.  We wouldn’t want them to relapse and have symptoms again,” the post said.

School officials say janitors spent the weekend thoroughly cleaning the school.

“Every night since Thursday night we've had custodians using germicides to clean all the touch surfaces; that’s all the counters, desktops, and doorknobs,” said Pasco County Schools spokesperson Linda Cobbe. “This one is particularly viral. People who've helped out at the school have ended up getting sick."

Students and staff are being asked to stay home until they are symptom-free for 24 to 48 hours. 

“The good news about norovirus is, symptoms usually last only about one to three days, however, people can remain infectious shedding virus for another couple weeks. So one of the biggest ways we have to prevent is by hand washing so people, even who don’t have symptoms, can still spread it. They need to be vigilant about washing hands,” said FOX 13’s Dr. Jo.

At least one after school activity was canceled because of the stomach bug. District officials did say they believe the situation is going to “level off.”

Norovirus can quickly spread in closed places like daycare centers, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships. It’s also highly contagious. A person can contract the illness by touching an infected person, consuming contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. 

The most common symptoms to look out for are: 
- Diarrhea
- Vomiting 
- Nausea
- Stomach pain

Other symptoms include: 
- Fever
- Headache
- Body aches

These symptoms can be serious for some, especially young children and older adults. Symptoms typically present themselves 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people will get better within one to three days, but it could take up to a week. 

It’s also important to give yourself enough time to let your body recover, even after you start to feel better. According to the CDC, a person recovering from norovirus can still pass the illness on to someone else two days after their symptoms clear, so it’s important to stay home to prevent making other people sick. 

The CDC says washing your hands is the key. Hand washing is especially important after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before eating, preparing, or handling food. The CDC also says alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.