Norovirus suspected in Park Tudor outbreak
A mystery illness - later confirmed as norovirus - took out a quarter of an Indianapolis school's students.
Administrators called in health inspectors, sent letters home, and even considered cancelling classes as the sickness swept through Park Tudor School on North College Avenue.
Clinics throughout central Indiana saw parents and kids clamoring to get flu shots last month. But as the concerns over influenza start to subside, now comes word of a gastrointestinal illness spreading at the north side school.
Park Tudor says 85 of its 423 high school students called in sick earlier this week. The health department's Melissa McMaster says to have that many students out sick is unusual.
"We can't say for sure what we're looking at, but it sounds very much like a typical Norovirus outbreak," said McMaster.
Norovirus often causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, symptoms the ill students shared.
"Norovirus is extremely contagious. It takes very few particles of the virus to become infected so in places like schools, nursing homes and hospitals you see it spread very quickly," said McMaster.
Park Tudor's Peter Kraft says the school acted quickly to stop the spread.
"We were very attentive to the public areas, particularly the restrooms, with increased cleaning staff. We added more today," said Kraft.
Further measures were outlined in a letter sent home to parents. It also encouraged frequent hand-washing and making sure ill students were symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school.
"With so many students out sick they did ask the health department whether they should cancel classes," said Kraft. "Based on best practices and the advice of the health department, we kept the school open because we have the appropriate staffing to continue working with the kids."
March 7th update: Two of three Park Tudor students who were ill tested positive for norovirus.