HOUSTON, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Authorities said Tuesday the gastrointestinal illness norovirus is likely what spurred hundreds of absences at a high school in the U.S. state of Texas, local media reported.
Nearly 300 students at Richardson High School in north Texas were absent or sent home last Thursday after incurring symptoms of an acute gastrointestinal illness. That number ballooned to over 600 the next day and on Tuesday some 200 students remained absent because of the illness, local media KHOU reported.
School officials notified the county health department, which launched an investigation. Preliminary lab results on Tuesday point to norovirus being the culprit, according to the report.
The school sent out a memo to parents and staff Tuesday and are urging students to be proactive in washing their hands with soap and using hand sanitizer throughout the day. Crews worked to clean door handles, water fountains and counter tops between each class period.
Norovirus is highly contagious and can be passed on by an infected person, contaminated food or water or by coming into contact with a contaminated surface. It causes stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms typically vanish in one to three days.