LONG BEACH, Calif. (KTLA) — A nasty outbreak of norovirus has prompted health and school officials to close George Washington Carver Elementary in Long Beach for several days.
Parents were alerted to closure on Thursday, although memos show the virus has apparently been spreading through the school for several weeks.
More than 130 students and faculty have fallen ill since Feb. 22, according to the Long Beach Post.
Lori Shepler, a parent of two children at Carver, told KTLA that her daughter started experiencing symptoms on March 3. Her son got sick this past Sunday, and then she got sick on Thursday.
“They should have closed (the school) sooner to prevent so many people from being sick,” Shepler said.
Memos indicate that previous efforts to contain the outbreak were unsuccessful.
“Carver Elementary has already taken the appropriate steps to get this outbreak under control and (Long Beach) Public Health is working closely with the staff to investigate the cause of these infections to prevent new infections,” Monica Manipon, the school’s principal, told parents on March 1, weeks before the school was finally closed.
Norovirus is highly contagious and often associated with outbreaks on cruise ships.
Symptoms include sudden vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain. It is spread through direct and indirect contact with a sick person’s fecal matter.
Carver Elementary School is scheduled to be closed Friday, March 17, Monday, March 20, and Tuesday, March 21.
“Health officials have determined that this length of closure is the most effective way to stop the further spread of this common virus,” the school said in a message to parents. “A health screening process will be implemented as students return to school Wednesday morning.”
Health experts say there is no specific treatment for norovirus, which typically runs its course in three days. Doctors recommend patients drink plenty of liquids to account for fluids lost to vomiting and diarrhea.