One-third of the elementary and junior high students at Sibley East were out sick Wednesday and Thursday with flu-like symptoms. An investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health is pointing toward a Norovirus outbreak as the source, said Laura Reid, public health adviser with the Sibley County Health Department.
“To confirm 100 percent of what this is, it will take two weeks for stool samples to be returned,” Reid said.
Wednesday afternoon, there were 178 confirmed student absences and 11 staff absences. About 600 elementary and junior high students attend Sibley East.
Reid said Norovirus causes vomiting and diarrhea and is spread person to person, making hand-washing vital to stopping the spread. Symptoms last about 24 hours.
“Our message to folks is very good hand washing,” she said. “Be sure to wash your hands before food preparation.”
Reid also advises adults to stay home from work and students to stay home from school if symptoms arise, and to stay home at least 24 hours after vomiting ceases, although 72 hours is ideal.
Some Gaylord-area residents reported feeling sick as early as last weekend, according to media reports.
School staff thoroughly cleaned surfaces Wednesday afternoon, and the self-service food line was shut down. Students also were asked not to share or pass food in the classrooms.