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Colorado Health Officials Investigate Noro-Like Illnesses

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CBS4's Jennifer Brice talks with Dr. Richard Vogt (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jennifer Brice talks with Dr. Richard Vogt (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Public Health has been investigating after several illnesses have been reported with symptoms similar to norovirus.

Officials most recently investigated cases at Southmoor Elementary School.

“Denver Public Health and the Department of Environmental Health have worked closely with Denver Public Schools to educate staff and students about this type of illness, as well as ensure the school was properly cleaned to prevent the spread of the illness,” Nikki Heider with Denver Public Health said in a statement.

Additional cases have been reported outside of schools, as well as in bordering counties, according to Heider.

Norovirus is a contagious stomach virus that causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea within 24 to 72 hours of exposure. It affects both children and adults. The illness can last about 2 to 3 days. People with weak immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness.

“Denver Public Health is committed to promoting and protecting the health and well-being of the residents of Denver and beyond,” Denver Public Health Director Dr. William Burman said. “The best defense against contracting or spreading an illness like norovirus is hand washing and staying home if you are ill.”

Caroline Terbush has two children at Southmoor Elementary. She’s concerned, with good reason.

“It’s pretty scary. A couple of my friends’ kids have been out for like over a week,” Terbush said.

The mother of four says she has started feeling the symptoms, and just hopes it not the norovirus.

“There’s just an awful lot of it going on around in the community,” said Dr. Richard Vogt, Executive Direrctor at the Tri-County Health Department said.

This year the Tri-County Health Department has investigated 60 cases in Just Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, with an uptick in the last two months.

“In the last two months we’ve had 15 investigations in long-term care facilities, three from restaurants, and one in a child care center,” Vogt said.

Norovirus is highly infectious. Vogt says a person only needs a few particles of the germ to catch it. That’s why it spreads fast in group settings like day cares, schools, nursing homes and restaurants.

People who think they have the virus should contact their physician if symptoms worsen.

LINK: cdc.gov/norovirus

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