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Health Officials Investigate Norovirus Outbreak

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is investigating several possible new cases of Norovirus at a local boarding school.

Students at Dunn School in Los Olivos have been sent home for the second time in as many weeks. About thirty staff members came down with the virus last week. About half of the more than 200 students who attend Dunn School actually live on campus. Because the virus is known to spread very quickly and easily, school officials decided not to take any chances.

Students were sent home to keep them from contracting the disease, which is like a more intense version of the stomach flu, that affects the gastrointestinal tract.

“Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever,” explains Dr. Charity Thoman, with Santa Barbara County Health Department. She says symptoms only last about two days. Because no new cases were reported in the Dunn community within a seventy-two hour period, officials from the Santa Barbara County Health Department gave the O.K. to allow everyone back on campus.

But, this week, several students came down with similar symptoms. Officials decided once again to take precautions. Los Olivos residents, like Jason Khalil, say the recent outbreak has raised concern. “Word goes around real quick around here, you notice that.” Many are glad to hear the school is taking the illness so seriously.

Students are scheduled to return to campus on January 8th. According to the Santa Barbara County Health Department, the virus will not survive being dormant for more than 14 days.

KEY News spoke with administrators from other schools in the area. They are taking their own precautions–urging students to wash their hands, and disinfecting public areas. There have been no other confirmed cases of Norovirus, outside of Dunn School at this point.

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