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Wave of Stomach Illnesses Close John Adams Elementary School

Hundreds reported sick.

John Adams Elementary School. (Photo ACPS.)
John Adams Elementary School. (Photo ACPS.)
With nearly 200 students and more than 30 staff members hit with a stomach illness and more showing symptoms, Alexandria City Public Schools canceled classes for Friday and closed John Adams Elementary School for cleaning and disinfecting.

Alexandria schools officials said in a news release that in addition to those confirmed sick, another 50 students showed symptoms of illness Thursday, leading to the closure.

The building is being cleaned and disinfected to protect students and staff, district officials said. School is scheduled to resume on Monday, March 17. According to the Alexandria Health Department, many viruses and some bacteria can cause stomach illness, or “gastroenteritis.” The most likely cause in this case is a virus called “norovirus.”

Symptoms usually get better in two days. Actions to prevent additional people from catching this are necessary because there is no medicine or treatment to shorten the illness, officials said.

In Harford County, MD, similar outbreaks have been reported.

From ACPS:
This type of illness is usually highly contagious through contact with an infected person or through contact with contaminated food or objects. The health department recommends that parents make sure their child washes his or her hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If your child develops vomiting or diarrhea, please keep your child home for 24 hours after the symptoms stop before sending your child back to school.

To help protect students and prevent the spread of illness, please keep your child at home and inform school officials if you believe your child is ill. Please also consult your doctor if you suspect your child has a stomach illness and share this information with them. Sick children should remain home until they are free from symptoms for one entire day (24 hours).

Parents should watch for signs of dehydration if your ill child cannot drink fluids. Call your doctor immediately if you have any concerns about dehydration. More information about this type of stomach illness is available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
KC March 15, 2014 at 09:45 AM
I feel terrible for all of those people...poor kids! This just shouldn't happen in this day & age. I mean, how long has it been since we've known the dangers of cross-contamination & the efficacy of simply washing one's hands? It can be measured in CENTURIES! The prompts are all over the place, & in multiple languages; including Braille, for cryin' out loud! Except for the few, true masochists among us, how many of us would just allow somebody -who they *know* hasn't washed their hands after sneezing, coughing, doing their business, etc.- to contaminate their bodies, food, &/surroundings? That's right...nobody. Well, that's what you are doing to another when you don't wash your hands! One doesn't need to go all OCD in order to maintain an acceptable level of safety, either. This one is basic common sense!

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