Ogle health department warns of GI virus increase

Ogle County Health Department logo

OREGON — The Ogle County Health Department is warning area residents of an increase in gastrointestinal (GI) illness outbreaks and encourages people to take action to prevent the spread of the virus.

“GI illnesses can be highly contagious, spreads quickly from person to person and cannot be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of GI illnesses include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain that usually last between 24 hours and 48 hours. Anyone with GI illness should stay home when sick and for 24 hours after experiencing vomiting or diarrhea,” the health department posted on social media Monday afternoon.

Health officials said “good hygiene practices are important for everyone to prevent the spread of illness” and recommended people take the following steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to assist in the prevention and spread of GI viruses:

• Frequently wash your hands, especially after using the toilet or changing diapers, before eating and preparing food or before taking or giving someone medicine.

• Using hand sanitizers in addition to handwashing can be beneficial but using hand sanitizers should not replace hand washing. Handwashing with soap and water is always preferred over hand sanitizers.

To help make sure that food is safe from viruses, routinely clean and sanitize kitchen utensils, counters and surfaces before preparing food. Additional steps to reduce the spread include:

• Rinse fruits and vegetables before eating.

• Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.

• Avoid preparing food for others when sick and for at least two days after symptoms stop.

“If you are caring for someone with a GI illness, always thoroughly clean and disinfect an area immediately after an episode of vomiting or diarrhea. Wear rubber or disposable gloves and wipe the entire area with paper towels. Use a bleach-based household cleaner to disinfect the area. If using liquid household bleach to disinfect, use a chlorine bleach and water solution. Leave the bleach disinfectant on the affected area for at least five minutes, then clean the entire area again with soap and hot water. Finish by cleaning any soiled laundry, taking out the trash and washing your hands,” health officials said.

Ogle County Health Department logo

On Monday, the Oregon School District posted this on social media: “Parents/families of students at Oregon Junior/Senior High School; Please be advised that we have a full day of school tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov 22). Students will be participating in classes as usual. We did have some students sent home due to illness today, but we are not experiencing the level of student or staff illness that is happening at OES. We look forward to seeing all (healthy) students tomorrow. Then, we wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving break (Wed.-Sun).”

That information followed a post by Oregon Superintendent Tom Mahoney:

“We wanted to touch base with you regarding the illness that is going on through our buildings. On Friday we had 35 students who were sent home with what seems to be a stomach flu from the elementary. We did reach out to the health department on Friday, and they shared that schools across the county were facing similar issues. It appears that the illness is a norovirus (stomach flu) which is highly contagious. This bug has hit our staff as well which has led to staffing shortages.

“While we regularly sanitize our buildings using our Clorox360 machines, our custodial staff came in this weekend and disinfected the building. I apologize for not communicating with you earlier, please know we are doing everything we can to keep your students healthy. If you have any questions, please contact me at tmahoney@ocusd.net.

Residents can contact the Ogle County Health Department with additional questions or concerns at 815-562-6976.

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