Virus traced to school staffroom

19:47, Feb 26 2014

The virus that swept through Waimea College staff has been identified as norovirus and is believed to have originated in the staffroom.

Medical officer of health for Nelson Marlborough, Dr Jill Sherwood, has confirmed that the laboratory results showed norovirus was responsible for last week's outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting at the college.

About 30 staff were ill with the highly infectious vomiting and diarrhoea bug last week. With a 48-hour stand-down after their last symptoms it meant the college had to scramble to cover classes using other staff and relievers.

Dr Sherwood said the absenteeism rate had returned to normal and the outbreak was now over.

She said it appeared that the virus had entered the school via the staffroom where the hard surfaces were likely to have been contaminated and from there the staff became infected.

No food outlet was involved in the spread or infection of the staff members, said Dr Sherwood.

Norovirus was always circulating in the community and the best defence was thorough and frequent hand washing and drying especially after going to the toilet and before preparing food.

She said in the past month there had been an increase in the number of faecal specimens that GPs had sent the laboratory from patients with diarrhoea.

However, with no increase in the number of these samples being positive for bacteria or parasites one must conclude that the illness in the community caused by a virus which is most likely norovirus. As norovirus was not a notifiable disease and there was no additional treatment, testing was only done in outbreaks where a lot of people could be infected.