School outbreak: Expert breaks down norovirus vs. flu virus symptoms

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Parents and students at Creekside High School were on edge Friday after more than a dozen students and a teacher left school ill Thursday with a suspected stomach virus.

Only 549 of the schools 2,300 students showed up for classes at Creekside on Friday, but it's unclear if the students who missed class were ill or trying to avoid becoming ill.

Dr. Mobeen Rathore, chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease and Immunology at Wolfson Children's Hospital, said based on reported symptoms, including severe vomiting, the illness could be norovirus, which typically strikes on cruise ships, but did not rule out that the students have the flu.

He said symptoms of flu include sudden fever and body ache, but also vomiting and diarrhea, which are symptoms reported among students at the high school.

Rathore said as a precaution, everyone should get a flu shot to protect themselves against the virus.

If it is the norovirus, Rathore said a person is considered contagious for two days after the symptoms present themselves.

If your child was in class with a student who is now sick, chances are they will not catch either of the viruses unless he or she came into contact with that student, the doctor explained.

To minimize the chances of catching the norovirus, Rathore said to make sure you cook any seafood very well and wash vegetables before eating them.

There is no vaccine for the norovirus, so you can only treat the symptoms, which usually pass without any serious complications in otherwise healthy people.

For more advice from Rathore, click the play button on the video at the top of this article.

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