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Friday afternoon and weekend activities cancelled

More than 100 students and several staff members at Rock Creek Elementary School are fighting what Washington County Health Department officials believe to be an illness caused by the norovirus.

In a letter issued Friday by Jennifer Vines, health officer for the county, parents and school staff were told that many students and faculty members were suffering from vomiting and diarrhea.

She recommended that anyone suffering the symptoms should not attend school or report to work until 24 hours after symptoms are gone.

While classes remained in session on Friday, Beaverton School District spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler said after-school activities and sports are cancelled on Friday and through the weekend.

"There will be regular bus service today, but all after-school activities and sports are cancelled so that disinfecting and deep cleaning can occur," Wheeler said in a letter posted on the school's website. "Weekend activities for Rock Creek Elementary School are also cancelled.

"If you wish to pick up your child from school instead of them taking the bus, please feel free to come to school. You are welcome to pick up your child at any time."

Vines shared the following information about the illness:

Symptoms: A norovirus infection usually includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Some experience low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches or a general sense of tiredness. The illness begins suddenly. Norovirus infections are usually not serious, although people may feel very sick and vomit many times. Most people get better within a few days.

Transmission: Symptoms usually begin about 24-48 hours after swallowing the virus, but can appear as early as 12 hours. People infected with norovirus are most contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill until about three days after recovery. Some people may be contagious for as long as two weeks. Therefore, it is important to use good hand washing even after they have recovered from symptoms.

Prevention: Norovirus is very contagious and can spread easily from person to person. Both feces and vomit are infectious. There is no treatment or vaccine for norovirus.

To help avoid getting this illness, people should do the following:

• Stay at home when ill to avoid further spread.

• Wash hands well and often. Always wash hands after using the toilet and before eating/preparing food.

• Flush vomit and feces down the toilet.

• Wash contaminated clothing or linens in hot water.

• For cleaning at home, mix one-third cup bleach to one gallon of water. Re-make every 24 hours. However, this may ruin certain surfaces.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov and type “norovirus” in the search box.

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