OXNARD, Calif. - Ventura County Public Health officials in Oxnard on Friday were monitoring a norovirus outbreak that raced through the Rio School District.
Officials said more than 500 students at more than half a dozen elementary and middle schools in Oxnard exhibited symptoms of nausea and vomiting over the past nine days. After an investigation involving Ventura County Public Health and Ventura County Environmental Health, officials were able to identify norovirus as the organism responsible for the symptoms.
Parents were informed of the outbreak on Wednesday in a district-wide email.
"We're following these cases closely," said Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin in a press release from Ventura County Public Health, "and are encouraged that it seems to be on the decline, though we will continue to monitor it."
Health officials mounted an aggressive response in hopes of keeping it from spreading any further. So far, none of the students have had to be hospitalized.
Rio School District Superintendent John Puglisi was concerned over hundreds of students missing school as the virus runs it's course but said it's important for children to get better before they return.
"If you feel like your child has any of those symptoms, you need to notify the school and then it's a 48 to 72-hour period before you are to return to school," Puglisi said.
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can spread through food, contact with people and contaminated surfaces. It causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, which could last one to three days.
Puglisi added that the district is carefully following health department guidelines to prevent more students from getting sick.
Health officials said the most effective way of preventing norovirus is frequent hand washing, especially after using the restroom and before eating or drinking.