Cook County IL Health News: Stomach Virus Sickens Students from 52 Schools

Cook County IL Health News: Stomach Virus Sickens Students from 52 Schools


11/17/2010 // West Palm Beach , FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan

Cook County, IL—As of Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 52 suburban Cook County schools reported two more students’ sick with a highly contagious type of stomach virus. Health officials received the first report at the beginning of October, but an increasing number of cases prompted them to issue a health alert at the start of this month.

“We are constantly keeping all surfaces clean in the school, providing hand sanitizers, reminding children—particularly the younger children—of hygiene procedures, washing hands, not eating or drinking after others, that type of thing,” explained Des Plaines District 62’s director of community relations, Mindy Ward.

Reports indicated an outbreak of a type of Norovirus has been making students from several different school districts ill. Symptoms have been known to include vomiting, stomach cramps and mild fever.

The gastrointestinal virus is extremely contagious and can infect people through direct contact, as well as through the consumption of contaminated food or beverages.

With the holiday season approaching, school and health officials have urged people to uphold a high level of hygiene to avoid acquiring a potential gastrointestinal infection. Those infected with the virus were also advised to stay home for at least twenty-four hours after the symptoms disappear.

“Especially as there are parties and family get-togethers that is a really extra special time to think about washing your hands, really be conscious of washing your hands,” said Dr. Susan Gerber with the Cook County Department of Public Health.

“If somebody is ill with diarrhea or vomiting, not a great idea for them to be preparing food for a large group of family members basically because this virus is very contagious,” Dr. Gerber added.

Awareness among students is extremely vital. Algonquin Middle School student, Leena Khoury said, “I wash my hands every other class period from the desks and the chairs ‘cause there usually have been kids there who are sick, so I wash my hands every other period.”

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan.

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