Babylon High School, located on Long Island, suffered a norovirus outbreak that forced hundreds of students to be absent from school. The norovirus, which causes an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea, is reported to have broken out at a dance event at the school on Friday, March 17. The NY Post reports that the event had barely begun when students started feeling sick. Several patrons reportedly started vomiting minutes into the event and later complained of diarrhea and stomach pain. In the week following the dance hundreds of students did not report for school because of the illness.
According to ABC 7, 250 students reported as absent earlier in the week, a number that reduced to about 100 by Thursday, March 23rd.
Health Department officials carried out an investigation into whether the cases of illness at Babylon High had been caused by food poisoning emanating from its kitchen. It was discovered that the cases of illness were instead caused by the norovirus outbreak.
“Norovirus has been circulating throughout the U.S. for the last few months as it does every year, though an increase in cases compared to our COVID-19 pandemic years was reported by the CDC in February,” said Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott.
“It, unfortunately, happens like that. It can spread very quickly,” Dr. Pigott said. “What happens is you have some contamination on your hands, and then you’re touching door knobs, railings — and then people touch that.”
“We advise people to continue to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and disinfect surfaces to avoid coming into contact with pathogens that cause norovirus,” he added.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus has the following symptoms; vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Norovirus is highly contagious and spreads through food and contact with an infected person. It can spread through contact with contaminated utensils, food, and surfaces. The best method to prevent the spreading of norovirus is thoroughly washing one’s hands with soap.