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Health officials investigating suspected norovirus outbreak at Babylon High School

Nearly 100 students sickened in suspected norovirus outbreak on LI
Nearly 100 students sickened in suspected norovirus outbreak on LI 02:00

BABYLON, N.Y. -- A health alert has been issued in Suffolk County after nearly 100 students called out sick from Babylon High School because of what's believed to be the highly contagious norovirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported an increase in cases this year.

Health officials are still investigating what caused the suspected outbreak at the school. The county health commissioner says last Friday, more than 80 students called out sick with the gastrointestinal illness.

Public health employees inspected the cafeteria but didn't find any indication that it originated there.

Two of June Trujillo's grandchildren, ages 13 and 15, got sick.

"He came home, and he's like, 'Oh, my stomach is killing me,'" Trujillo said. "A lot of parents were really upset because the kids were violently throwing up."

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Dr. Christina Zhang of MiDoctor urgent care explained the virus.

"It's a virus that lives in the gastrointestinal tract and usually causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and these viruses are highly contagious," Zhang said. "The mode of spread is through direct contact through contaminant water, food or surface."

The doctor says one way to protect yourself is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before every meal.

She says another way people get it is by sharing food or drinks with someone infected.

Symptoms start 12 to 24 hours after exposure, and someone can be contagious for up to a week.

"We were really upset, and then when we got the runaround from the school -- oh, it's no big deal, it's not this, it's not that many kids. My grandson said he saw cars like constantly coming around picking up kids out of the nurse's room," Trujillo said.

Some parents say the school delayed notifying parents and, following a large school assembly Friday and children getting sick, it still held a school dance Friday night.

CBS2 reached out to the school district for comment but did not immediately hear back.

There is no treatment for the virus, and the county is still investigating the outbreak.

The Suffolk County health commissioner said there are often norovirus cases this time of year, but last month, the CDC did report an uptick in cases compared to previous years.

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