United States

Dozens of Students Sent Home After Apparent Norovirus Outbreak at Queens School

Eighty-eight students have been sent home from a Queens elementary school over the last two days after an apparent outbreak of norovirus, commonly known as the stomach flu, officials said.

Sixty students from elementary school PS 12 in Woodside were sent home with their parents at about 8 a.m. Wednesday after they complained of various stomach issues.

Another 28 students were sent home Thursday after reporting similar symptoms, officials said.

No children were sent to the hospital on either day.

Mayor de Blasio said he ordered the school to be disinfected over the next several days; he said school can still operate during the disinfection process and the Department of Health is on site monitoring.

Inspectors were checking out the school's cafeteria Thursday, but no contamination was found.

The school’s attendance was down about 210 students Thursday and 130 students on Wednesday, officials said. The school has 1,275 students and attendance averages 96 percent.

Fourth-grader Karen Leon left the school early Thursday with her mother. She said the nurse's office was jame packed.

"It's full of kids right now," she said. "It's very dangerous and the nurse wants to alert everyone to go home so they won't catch it." 

Parents picking up their sick kids left the school with fact sheets on norovirus. 

The Department of Education said it would continue working closely with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to ensure students' safety.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can be contracted from an infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces. It is the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms include stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, fever, headache and body aches. A person normally develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus. Most people get better within three days while drinking plenty of fluids.

To avoid exposure, federal officials advise people to wash their hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and before eating, preparing or handling food.  

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