Hundreds of Marion County elementary students out sick

Norovirus suspected at East Marion Elementary School


MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Nearly 300 students at a Marion County elementary school stayed home sick on Friday, likely because of a norovirus outbreak.

[AUDIO: School recording]

Forty percent of students at East Marion Elementary were absent from school on Friday, according to Marion County spokesman Kevin Christian, who said the total number was about 280 students, including 50 students who went home early.

School officials said they were awaiting test results from the health department to show what sickened the students. The results are expected next week.

"Any 'outbreak' is due to the whatever virus was brought onto the campus," Christian said when asked what the school did to remedy the illness. "Health department officials repeatedly have told us this kind of virus usually comes with children to campus."

Health officials have not yet confirmed the cause of the outbreak as a norovirus, which is somewhat common on cruise ships, but Christian told Local 6 it's likely because the symptoms the students are having are similar -- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe abdominal pain and fever.

School officials urge parents to remind kids to wash their hands regularly and to keep the children home if they show signs of being sick.

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