Minneapolis school closes for the week because of norovirus worries

Norovirus is mistakenly called the stomach flu.

An outbreak of what's believed to be norovirus has prompted a Minneapolis school to close for the rest of the week.

Minnehaha Academy said Wednesday it was closing its Upper School campus (that's students in ninth through 12th grade) starting at noon Wednesday, and they'll bring in an industrial cleaning service to sanitize the building.

Students in the Upper School will have digital learning days Thursday and Friday, with the academy saying school will resume as normal on Monday. The Lower and Middle schools are not affected.

Officials are asking anyone who is showing symptoms of norovirus – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps – to stay home for at least 24 hours after their symptoms end.

What is norovirus?

Norovirus, which is often mistakenly called the stomach flu, is the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in Minnesota, but can also be spread between an infected person and others, the state Department of Public Health says.

The illness is found in the poop or throw up of someone who has norovirus. You can catch it a few different ways, including:

  • Eating or drinking something that's contaminated with norovirus by the person who handled the food, but didn't wash their hands well enough.
  • Touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated, then not washing your hands before eating or putting them in your mouth.
  • Having direct contact with someone who has norovirus and is showing symptoms – like caring for someone who is sick, or sharing food or utensils with them.

People who get norovirus are usually sick for one to two days, and there's really no treatment for the illness because it's a viral infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. But be sure to drink plenty of fluids while you're sick so you don't get dehydrated, and wash your hands so you don't give it to anyone else.

Every year in the United States norovirus, on average, causes 19 to 21 million cases of gastroenteritis (when your stomach and/or intestines are inflamed); leads to 1.7-1.9 million visits to the doctor and about 400,000 emergency room visits (usually in young children); and contributes to about 570-800 deaths, mostly among young kids and the elderly, the CDC says.

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