Community Action Required to Help Stop the Spread

We are seeing a stomach bug going around the community.  It’s mainly causing vomiting and spread easily from person-to-person.  To help stop the spread, we’re asking everyone to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub when soap and water are not readily available.

  • Know the signs and symptoms of illness such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, vomiting, or diarrhea.

  • If you or any of your family members have been sick with this illness, stay home and remain home for at least 24 hours after symptoms have subsided.

  • If you think you’ve been exposed to the virus through clean up or contact, consider limiting interaction with others for at least 24 hours.

School District 51 made the decision to close all buildings due to the significant student and staff illness. The decision comes after more than a dozen schools reported an increase of absences due to illness and several incidents of vomiting in public areas of schools. This closure was an unprecedented but necessary step to prevent the further spread of illness.  With students out of the classroom, it’s important our entire community is informed on how to prevent the spread of this highly contagious illness.

The main symptom reported is vomiting and diarrhea with some reports of fever. The exact illness, though not confirmed through lab testing is acting a lot like norovirus.  Additionally, we are in influenza season.

The closure of schools will help prevent illness in those school settings, however, this type of illness is very contagious and spreads rapidly through person-to-person contact. Mesa County Public Health is concerned about the spread in other sections of our community. 

A large number of people can be infected if there is a public incident of vomiting. When that occurs, tiny particles are released and can travel in the air for up to 25 feet, these particles can enter the nose and mouth of a non-infected person and get them sick.  

In addition, viruses like this can live on surfaces for months, so if waste (either vomit or feces) from an infected person is not cleaned up properly, the virus can be re-introduced.

Stomach flu vs. Influenza

This virus is a gastrointestinal illness, or what is sometimes referred to as ‘stomach flu,’ not influenza. Viruses like this typically come on quickly; in this outbreak patients have reported a very short amount of time between not feeling well and their first instance of vomiting, and lasts a relatively short period of time. Patients in this outbreak report feeling better within 12-24 hours.

Influenza is a respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, body aches, cough, and possibly sore throat. The onset can also be very quick, but influenza typically takes much longer to recover from. Getting an annual flu shot is your best protection against influenza.

If you or your child is sick, and you have questions about the symptoms or illness, you should contact a health care provider.

 

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