CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Shepherd of the Hills Christian School in Centennial is closed because of a widespread outbreak of the norovirus.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The school put out a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday night announcing Wednesday’s closure. School officials said the classrooms will be disinfected.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS) Teachers at the school clean items in the classroom on Wednesday morning. (credit: CBS)

Symptoms of norovirus usually develop within 12 to 48 hours. School officials decided to close the school to try to keep the spread of the virus at a minimum.

“The school recognizing that a lot of grades and a lot of classrooms… children in the classrooms being impacted up to the point where it was difficult for the school to really manage the day to day activities of running the school and they thought it was prudent to close the school in order to do proper cleaning, educate the families about this illness,” said Tri-County Health Department spokeswoman Dr. Bernadette Albanese.

The throwing up and upset stomach that come with it can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults and people with other illnesses.

Additional Resources

The following FAQs about norovirus were shared with CBS4 by Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children:

Norovirus infection occurs in the stomach and intestines. It is most often called the stomach flu. Outbreaks often occur in areas with close contact such as:
– Cruise ships
– Restaurants
– Nursing homes
– Hospitals

Causes

Norovirus infections are caused by a specific group of viruses. The viruses can spread through:

– Contaminated water supplies, such as recreational lakes, swimming pools, wells, and water stored on cruise ships
– Raw or improperly steamed shellfish, especially clams and oysters
– Food and drinks prepared by infected food handlers who do not wash their hands properly after using the bathroom
– Surfaces, such as a door knob
– The viruses can also spread by direct contact with an ill person. This is common in a day care center or nursing home.

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Risk Factors

Any person who ingests the virus is at risk of getting this infection. Older children and adults commonly get this infection. Even if you have been infected with norovirus in the past, you can become ill again if:
– You are exposed to a different type of norovirus
– Your last illness was more than 24 months ago

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:
– Nausea
– Vomiting
– Diarrhea
– Abdominal pain
– Headache
– Fever
– Chills
– Muscle aches
– Tiredness

Symptoms often appear within 24-48 hours of exposure to the virus. Symptoms often last about 1-3 days.

Treatment

A norovirus infection will go away on its own. Medical treatment is often not needed since the illness is often brief and mild. Most people will recover by resting and drinking plenty of fluids. Oral rehydration solutions are the best option to help replace fluids and electrolytes. These can be found in most drugstores. Severe dehydration may require IV fluids in a hospital but this is a rare complication in the United States. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. There are no antiviral medications or vaccines used to fight or prevent this infection.

Prevention

To help reduce your chances of getting or passing noroviruses, please take the following steps.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water:

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– After using the bathroom
– After changing diapers
– Before preparing or eating food
– If you are caring for someone who is infected, make sure the person thoroughly washes his or her hands. If you are ill or caring for someone who is ill, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces using bleach cleaner. Remove and wash soiled linens. Use hot water and soap
– Wash fruits and vegetables
– Cook oysters and clams before eating them
– Do not prepare food if you have symptoms. The virus may continue to be in your stool for up to 3 days after your diarrhea has resolved. Wait 3 days after you have recovered before handling food again
– Throw away contaminated food
– If you are sick, do not attend work until symptoms have passed