Soaring norovirus cases put schools on high alert in Yolo and Sacramento counties

New cases of norovirus, the highly contagious gastrointestinal illness marked by diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps, have more than doubled in Yolo County and now extend to dozens of schools in Sacramento County, health officials said Wednesday.

Last week in Yolo County, more than 950 students were reported to have the virus. The number had grown to 2,091 by the close of county business Wednesday, said county spokeswoman Beth Gabor.

The reports of illness have come within the last two and a half weeks, said Sacramento County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Samantha Mott.

Maria Lopez, spokeswoman for Sacramento City Unified, said the district has recorded between 150 to 200 suspicious student cases so far at 28 schools. Mott said she did not have an immediate count of the number of schoolchildren affected countywide.

The spread of the virus has prompted Sacramento County health officials to help school districts seek help from families. Schools are urging parents to report illnesses, store stool specimens and keep children at home at least 48 hours after symptoms disappear.

An alert from Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County public health officer, on Friday said the “presumably norovirus” outbreaks also were found in child development centers at school districts.

Mott identified the six school districts in Sacramento County with suspected cases as Sacramento City, San Juan, Elk Grove, Twin Rivers and Natomas, as well as the Elverta Joint Elementary School District, site of the first norovirus report early this month. In addition, Folsom Cordova spokesman Daniel Thigpen said via email that a handful of cases have been reported in that district, too.

“We’re working to get specimen collection kits out to the schools” to confirm the illness, Mott said.

In the Sacramento City Unified School District, principals have sent parents notices on how to take precautions, including careful hand washing and cleaning. Officials at other districts said they are closely monitoring cases and working with county health officials.

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