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Norovirus surge in US causes over 1,000 students to miss school

Over 1,000 students in schools in Alabama have missed classes because of the highly contagious stomach bug.
Norovirus surge in US causes over 1,000 students to miss school
Posted at 8:00 PM, Feb 29, 2024

Cases of the highly contagious stomach bug known as norovirus are surging throughout the U.S., especially in the Northeast.

Data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals a steady increase in people affected by the illness.

Around 12.3% of national tests return positive in a three-week period, and it appears to be trending upward, specifically in the Northeast region of the country.

Meanwhile in Alabama, some schools had to be closed down after experiencing an outbreak of the virus. According to reports by the local station WKRG, 1,231 students in Fairhope schools missed classes because they were sick or taking precautions. Of those, 721 were from just one elementary school. 

Norovirus is spread through direct contact with an infected person, touching contaminated surfaces, or consuming contaminated food or drinks. 

Dr. Stuart Ray, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, tells Scripps News that while he's not 100% sure about all the things that drive this virus, he believes that crowding and low humidity play a big role.

"There's a seasonal pattern, and this is very consistent with the seasonal pattern we see in rises in the winter," said Ray.

The CDC says the symptoms of this illness consist of vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, headache and body aches.

Doctors say your biggest defense against the virus is to wash your hands.

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