• Norovirus confirmed as cause of illness in hundreds of Marion County students


    MARION COUNTY, Fla. - The Florida Department of Health confirmed Thursday that norovirus was the cause of an illness that kept more than 400 students out of class at East Marion Elementary School recently.

    School officials said students suffered with vomiting and diarrhea.

    Health officials say the virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted person-to-person, as well as through contaminated water, food or surfaces.

    Officials said the symptoms, which can include low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and an overall feeling of being tired, can last 24 to 48 hours.

    Marion County school officials said they used decontamination foggers and wiped down every surface at the school. On Tuesday, they even closed the school cafeteria.

    "The only way we are going to stop this outbreak at East Marion Elementary School is through a community effort," said Amy Reilly of the Florida Department of Health in Marion County. "We need to work together to keep kids and staff home until long after symptoms have stopped. Whether the symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, fever or a stomach ache, people need to wait until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours, or the outbreak may continue."

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