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Dozens of students ill after virus outbreak at SF elementary school

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(S.F. Examiner file photo)

A norovirus outbreak at McKinley Elementary School has caused 53 students and four teachers to fall ill, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Unified School District confirmed Friday.

“McKinley started noticing students with a pattern of symptoms that were suspicious for norovirus when school re-opened after winter break,” said SFSUD spokesperson Gentle Blythe, adding that “no known norovirus outbreaks” had been reported in other SFUSD schools as of Friday.

According to Blythe, the school, which is located near The City’s Castro District at 1025 14th St., is working closely with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to “gain guidance on cleaning, hygiene and other ways to prevent spread and control the outbreak.”

The school district has informed parents about the outbreak through notification letters, which contained tips on preventing the spread of the illness.

“Additional custodial services are being provided for enhanced cleanings every day of the incubation period,” Blythe said.

The symptoms associated with the norovirus are vomiting and diarrhea, and while most people recover from it in a matter of days, it can cause severe dehydration, according to Blythe.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that circulates more widely throughout the winter and has the potential for causing large outbreaks. According to the Centers for Disease Control, norovirus can “survive some disinfectants, making it hard to get rid of.”

The school district recommends “hand washing and careful disinfection of the environment” to control the virus’ spread. Anyone with diarrhea and vomiting symptoms is asked to “stay home from work or school until they are feeling better.”

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