Southern Nevada Health District officials met Monday in response to the closure of two Las Vegas Valley charter schools due to outbreaks of a gastrointestinal illness, possibly norovirus.
Dr. Eve Breier, principal of Imagine Schools at Mountain View in Las Vegas, said about 10 percent of its 670 students called in sick each day over the past week and a half, prompting closure of the school on Monday and Tuesday.
Students will return to school at 6610 Grand Montecito Parkway on Wednesday after the school’s janitorial staff finishes cleaning all surfaces in the school with products specific to combating norovirus.
“We’re working to create an optimal learning environment for our students and our staff,” Breier said.
The closure comes just after Somerset Academy in North Las Vegas shut its campus Thursday and Friday because of similar concerns.
The health district plans to publish an advisory on its website for the public and local health care providers to increase awareness of the outbreaks, said Linda Verchick, disease surveillance supervisor. The district has also notified the Centers for Disease Control about the outbreak through the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS).
“You should start the entry to NORS as soon as you can and you add to it as you get updates,” Verchick said. “It’s a best practice for health departments nationally.”
According to Verchick, the district is investigating the cause of the outbreak but believes a survey sent to parents may help pinpoint possible sources of the illness. It also is working to identify all students affected at Somerset Academy.
The term norovirus refers to a group of viruses that commonly cause food poisoning and acute gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, according to the CDC. Symptoms include stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and vomiting.
Noroviruses are highly contagious and easily contracted from another infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces. The illness typically passes in two to three days, but can be dangerous for some people, especially young children and older adults.
In addition to the report of outbreaks at the two schools, Verchick said there have been reports of norovirus in smaller clusters — 20 cases or fewer — throughout Las Vegas, including at schools, long-term care facilities and child-care centers.
“In some instances we get the report too late, and once it takes hold, it’s harder to eliminate,” Verchick said.
Dave Sheehan, spokesman for the Clark County School District, said there are no confirmed cases or norovirus in district schools at this time.
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Did you know?
Norovirus infection can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and/or nausea approximately 24-48 hours after exposure to the agent. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick.
6610 Grand Montecito Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89149