San Mateo County health officials are monitoring local facilities, including schools, for outbreaks of norovirus, the highly contagious “stomach bug” that has caused multiple outbreaks in other counties.
Norovirus infection causes gastroenteritis, which leads to diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. The infection can spread easily and quickly.
The 24-hour stomach bug outbreak has sickened hundreds of students in the San Jose Unified School District schools and may be spreading to other counties, according to the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency.
There have been at least 28 cases reported by children and staff at a camp in the unincorporated Boulder Creek area, according to Santa Cruz County officials who said they are concerned about a more significant outbreak.
So far, 368 students have fallen ill at 14 schools in San Jose since the outbreak began around May 4, school district officials said Thursday.
Most of those students affected are already healthy and back in class since the duration of the illness is relatively brief.
District officials estimated Wednesday that more than 200 students had been sickened by the outbreak, but say the growing number of cases is driven primarily by just four schools.
So far the outbreak in the San Jose Unified School District is only affecting students. No teachers or staff have reported catching the virus, according to the district.
To help combat the outbreak, cleaning crews have been sanitizing surfaces in common areas of the affected schools, like playgrounds, computer labs, classrooms and cafeterias.
The best way to protect yourself and to keep the virus from spreading is to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds, especially after using the bathroom and before handling food, said Cassius Lockett, San Mateo County’s Public Health Policy and Planning director.
While norovirus is common, it can be a serious health risk. While most people recover in 1-3 days repeated bouts of throwing up can cause dehydration, especially in children and the elderly, Lockett added.
The Centers for Disease Control maintains a web page with extensive resources about norovirus cdc.gov/norovirus. Contact San Mateo County Communicable Disease Control (650) 573-2346, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or (650) 363-4981 evenings, weekends and holiday.