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Suspected norovirus sickens 100 students in Broomfield

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BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- About 100 students were out of class at Legacy High School on Wednesday, apparently stricken with norovirus, the school district reported.

Some 54 remained out of class on Thursday, said Pat Hamilton, Executive Director of Operations for Adams 12 Five Star Schools.

The illness has not been fully confirmed as norovirus, but officials were “pretty sure,” based on reported symptoms, Hamilton said.

Those symptoms include vomiting, fever, diarrhea and general lethargy.

Schools often experience a spike in norovirus infections about this time of year, though 100 students is an unusually high number, Hamilton said.

Since the number of students home sick dropped by nearly half on Thursday, officials were hopeful that the infection was receding.

Parents who suspect their children may be infected were asked to keep their kids home during the illness, and for two days after.

Adams 12 was working with Broomfield Health and Human Services to track the outbreak. As of Thursday, the situation was not thought to be abnormally dangerous.

Norovirus spreads so quickly because when someone vomits or has diarrhea, microscopic norovirus particles fly through the air and land on hard surfaces that can survive for weeks.

“The common cold we get by sneezing on one another, or coughing on one another, but this (norovirus) is through contact with vomit or diarrhea,” says Dr. Rafer Leach, of Guardian Urgent Care in Denver.

Dr. Leach says there’s no treatment. But it’s important to hydrate yourself.

“It’s not particularly life threatening in the First World. If you’re in a Third World country without resources, you can die of dehydration pretty easily,” he says.

And he says your only real defense against the virulent virus is thoroughly washing your hands—at least for 20 seconds, before eating and after using the restroom.

“And I would try my hardest not to touch my face, my nose and my mouth,” he says.