Science

Stomach Bug Suspected For School Outbreaks, Affects Over 800 Students

By Duna Bil , Jan 12, 2017 01:17 AM EST

A high school in Chicago had to shut down for the second time this week after a stomach bug outbreak caused over 800 students and 50 school staff to get ill. Health authorities suspect norovirus, or the stomach bug, to be the culprit of the incident. School officials have gotten the students and staff to get tested for the virus.

According to health officials, the clinical determination for the source of infection has yet to be made but the symptoms observed in the patients are very similar to norovirus. Naturally, they are following health protocol and procedures on how to deal with the virus. The school and other health officials are currently working to assist the Illinois Department of Public Health in identifying the virus more clearly.

The St. Charles East High School has about 2,500 students and 100 staff. The outbreak has affected a significant portion of the school population, reporting signs of the stomach bug such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. The virus is the number one cause of outbreaks from dirty food in the US, the ABC 30 reports.

According to the Centers for DIseas Control, about half of all outbreaks are food-related. Compounded with the winter season, norovirus is reported to be more aggressive and brutal with the low temperatures much like influenza. It affects some 21 million Americans and results to 800 deaths annually.

Symptoms of the widespread disease first got reported on Saturday night, postponing a basketball game. Despite the illnesses, classes are set to resume right after the outbreak. Similarly, a a university campus experienced the same incidence of outbreak as 14 students were diagnosed with stomach illness, the Michigan Daily says.

The source of the illness is said to be the dining hall of the campus, presumably from contaminated food. Although rumored to be caused by norovirus, health authorities say that is yet to be determined. University officials add that the winter stomach bug is a common cause of sickness in the campus.

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