Norovirus spreading through Colusa County schools

Students in school districts around Colusa County are showing symptoms of noroviros, an extremely common but highly contagious virus that spreads quickly among people in close quarters.

Maxwell Unified officials said they had one confirmed case last week, but that approximately a dozen or more students and adults were sick.

School officials are asking those with vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, chills and body aches to stay home at least 48 hours after symptoms disappear to slow the spread of the illness.

“It’s not just a come back to school kind of virus,” said Maxwell Elementary School Principal, Staci deWitt.

Norovirus, also known as the cruise ship virus, is the leading cause of gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach or intestines, and is responsible for about 20 million cases each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

According to the CDC, norovirus is a tough germ that survives for long periods on surfaces, and is hard to kill with common household cleaners.

The virus is also spread through direct contact with an infected person, and by sharing food, drinks and eating utensils.

Symptoms include a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping, and usually begin about 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus.

Maxwell, Colusa, Williams and Pierce school districts have notified parents about the recent spread of norovirus via letters and information posted online.

School officials said they are taking extra steps to clean and disinfect common and high-traffic areas using cleaners specifically formulated to kill the virus in order to help slow the spread of the illness.

While there is no treatment or vaccine for norovirus, health officials say it is important for those sick to drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up or diarrhea in order to prevent dehydration, which can be serious.

Those sick are encouraged to wash hands frequently to reduce the spread of the illness to others.