State lab confirms cause of mass sickness at Bridport school

BURLINGTON — As Vermont Department of Health officials had suspected it would, a state laboratory has confirmed norovirus as the culprit behind an outbreak of diarreah and vomiting that lead to the closure of Bridport Centeral School this week. The norovirus was found in a sample voluntarily collected from a person who became ill at Bridport Central, the Department of Health announced on Friday.
Department epidemiologists suspected norovirus due to the rapid onset of stomach illness, how widespread the illness was (90 percent of students and 30 percent of staff), and symptoms consistent with the virus including vomiting and diarrhea. 
Norovirus usually resolves within 24 to 60 hours after exposure.
Norovirus can spread in close settings such as schools because it is easily transmitted from person-to-person. Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
“If you have become sick from norovirus, you should stay home from work or school, refrain from preparing meals for others, and stay hydrated,” said Bradley Tompkins, infectious disease epidemiologist for the Health Department. “People who were sick can continue to shed the virus for several days after they have recovered, so continuing to properly wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom, is important to help stop the spread of the disease.”
The decision to reopen the school will be made collaboratively by the Health Department and the Addison Central Supervisory Union.

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