Major local norovirus outbreak confirmed

Lab results confirmed March 12 that hundreds of Asheville City Schools students and other local residents have been suffering from a norovirus in recent days, according to officials at Buncombe County Health and Human Services. Students at Isaac Dickson Elementary and Asheville High have been particularly hard hit – more than 150 Asheville High students were absent March 12 due to illness, according to Asheville Citizen-Times Reporter Casey Blake.

Here’s the press release from Buncombe County, which includes recommendations on how to avoid catching and spreading the norovirus:

Lab Results Confirms Norovirus Outbreak

Health officials at Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BC HHS) received confirmation this afternoon that specimens submitted for testing at the NC State Lab of Public Health were confirmed to be positive for norovirus.

BC HHS staff have been working with a local school who has been particularly hard hit with this illness, and we have been treating this as norovirus since the beginning. This confirmation won’t change the recommendations we have shared for controlling the outbreak.

It is important for the public to understand that Norovirus is not just in our schools – it is in our community. We need to work together to protect our most vulnerable populations, children in child care centers and elderly adults in adult care facilities.

Norovirus is very contagious. These simple steps can prevent the spread of norovirus:

• Stay at home if you are sick for at least 24 hours after symptoms end
• Wash your hands, especially after using the toilet and before preparing foods
• Hand sanitizer does not work to kill norovirus. Clean up vomit or diarrhea with a cloth and bleach cleaner or mix 1 part bleach with 10 parts water. Do not use vacuum to clean up because this can spread the virus. Never use undiluted bleach. And be sure to use a fresh bleach mix every day.

It is also important to remember to drink fluids if you become sick with vomiting and diarrhea, especially young children and older adults. Although there is no treatment for norovirus, people should look for signs of dehydration or other complications and seek medical care when needed. For more information, please visit buncombecounty.org/hhs or www.cdc.gov/norovirus/


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