Norovirus was cause of Batavia school outbreak

By Kristin Bednarski
Sun staff

The Clermont County General Health District released a preliminary report about the stomach virus that closed Batavia Elementary School Nov. 2.

Clermont County Health Commissioner Marty Lambert said they have identified the virus as a norovirus.

“That is a very common gastrointestinal illness that occurs,” Lambert said. “It is very easily transmitted from person to person, and it takes a very small amount to transfer from person to person.”

Lambert said a norovirus is a group of viruses, which means people can become sick more than one time.

“It is not one specific virus,” Lambert said. “You can have it this week and get it next week.”

Lambert said they sent several stool samples to the state laboratory and confirmed that the virus was a norovirus.

“All three samples were positive for norovirus,” Lambert said.

In addition, the health district collected surveys from individuals who had the virus and individuals who did not have the virus to determine any commonalities.

“We had wonderful feedback,” Lambert said.

Jackie Linder, an epidemiologist for the health district, put together a report that was released by Batavia Local School District. The report highlighted statistics of the illness at the school.

According to the report, 111 individuals at Batavia Elementary School had symptoms including diarrhea and/or vomiting between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, and 107 reported an onset date between Oct. 31 and Nov. 3. Additional symptoms included nausea, abdominal pain, cramps, fever, headache and chills.

The majority of the individuals reported that their illness was resolved by the time they spoke with officials at the health district.

Lambert predicted that many students who were affected by the virus would be well before they confirmed the cause.

Lambert said they were surprised by how many people were affected, but also know that the virus is spread easily.

“It is likely that it had to do with a lot of close contact,” Lambert said. “Young children, they touch their mouths, their friends hands, a lot of close contact and things that will spread germs.”

Molly Cribbet, assistant principal at the elementary school said students were greeted by Henry the Hand, a mascot provided by Dr. Will Sawyer of West Chester, when they returned to school Nov. 7. Henry the Hand helped teach students about washing their hands and preventing the spread of germs.

The school district also received hand sanitizer from Jeff England and Caleb Griggs to provide to every teacher.

“It was really great that the school welcomed (students) back with Henry the Hand,” Lambert said.

Lambert said the mascot probably made much more of an impact than someone just telling students what to do.

Lambert said they are still working to complete the final report, which may include additional details about the spread of the virus.

“We wanted to get something back to the school as quickly as possible,” Lambert said about releasing the preliminary report.

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