HAMMOND, LA (WVUE) - A Hammond school will close for cleaning after an outbreak of norovirus sickened several students.
Hammond Westside Montessori will be closed Friday and plans to reopen Monday, but that could change.
Schools Superintendent Mark Kolwe said the school started seeing cases last Friday, with 68 students out. On Monday, the number rose to 115, and on Tuesday it reached 260.
Today there were 350 students out, including 70 that went to school but were sent homes after they developed symptoms.
Kolwe said the entire custodial staff is out as well as several teachers.
The Department of Health and Hospitals epidemiology is monitoring the situation.
Kolwe said so far there are no problems at any other schools in the parish.
Those who come down with a norovirus infection go from feeling completely healthy to very ill within a day or two after being exposed. Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea and stomach cramps. Other norovirus symptoms include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.
Fox 8 caught up with one parent but she did not want to participate in an interview because she said she already contracted the virus.
"It's probably one of the most infectious virus that's around. You only need like 100 particles of this virus to get infected. and within 24 hours your body is making billions of particles of this virus," Orleans Parish Medical Society Dr. Brobson Lutz said.
Lutz believes it was the correct decision to shut the school temporarily. He said the incubation period for norovirus is a matter of days.
"It's worked in other communities where you just close down the school. You clean it all up. You get the kids in past the incubation period, and it usually takes care of this," Lutz said. "The classic cases of norovirus are on cruise ships where you have got thousands of people out sailing in all these close quarters and bang it starts. In the old days, everybody thought I've got sea sickness. What they've really got is norovirus."