OAKLAND — Many of the Oakland students who became ill with norovirus last week ate lunch in the cafeteria, according to the Douglas County Health Department.
The health department confirmed Monday that the roughly 100 students who got sick with symptoms that included vomiting and diarrhea had the highly contagious norovirus.
Stool samples tested positive for the virus, which also sickened students and staff members last month at Fir Grove Elementary School in Roseburg.
The health department is still investigating whether there is a link between the two norovirus outbreaks.
Oakland schools reopened Monday after closing Wednesday afternoon when about one-fifth of the student population got sick. Custodial staff sterilized school buildings on Thursday and Friday.
On Monday, school attendance was near normal at Lincoln Middle School and Oakland High School, but a bit below average at Oakland Elementary School.
All three Oakland schools share a cafeteria. Through interviews, health department representatives found that sick students were much more likely to have eaten lunch in the cafeteria than students who didn’t get sick. The department hasn’t identified any specific food source, but infected people can contaminate uncooked fruits and vegetables and surfaces and spread the virus to others.
Norovirus is spread in the vomit and stool of people who are infected, which can lead to contaminated food, water and surfaces.
Spread of the virus can be prevented through washing hands before and after meals, after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Both the Oakland and Roseburg school districts have switched to using cleaning products that are more likely to prevent the spread of norovirus.
• You can reach reporter Inka Bajandas at 541-957-4202 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.