MARION COUNTY, Fla. -

Health officials say a norovirus outbreak is what caused hundreds of students and faculty to fall ill at a Marion County elementary school over the last several days.

Marion County health officials said they determined on Wednesday that the norovirus kept home 207 students on Wednesday and nearly 300 students last week at East Marion Elementary.

School board officials said 179 students were absent on Thursday and eight were sent home at around 9 a.m.

Workers have spent days scrubbing the school and brought in food rather than serving food from the cafeteria.

“This is the time of year when norovirus often spreads around our communities,” said Amy Reilly, who supervises communicable disease prevention programs at the Florida Department of Health in Marion County. “Frequent hand-washing, especially before preparing food and after using the toilet or changing a child’s diaper, is the most effective means of preventing the spread of norovirus and other communicable diseases. Other important preventive measures include practicing proper food handling and preparation methods and disinfecting surfaces.”

Health officials said there is no treatment for norovirus and those infected should get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.

For more information on norovirus symptoms, click here.