July 1, 2016

Partly sunny

Health officials agree with Towslee closure

Heath experts say Brunswick Schools officials did the right thing in closing Towslee Elementary School for a thorough cleaning after an outbreak of food poisoning earlier this week.

School officials said between 20 and 25 students and staff became sick this week after students brought food to school for Teacher Appreciation Week.

On Wednesday, the Medina County Health Department confirmed three cases of norovirus infection from samples from the school.

“Closing Towslee Elementary School was an appropriate step to contain the spread of this virus,” said Krista Wasowski, Medina County health commissioner, said. “Superintendent (Michael) Mayell and his team at Brunswick City Schools have been proactive partners.”

Norovirus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through close contact with infected people, contaminated food, water and hard surfaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most common symptoms of norovirus are vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains. Other symptoms are fever, headaches and body aches, according to the CDC.

Most people recover from the illness within one to three days, but young children and the elderly can be vulnerable to a severe infection caused by the virus.

Although the exact source of the outbreak is unclear, school and Health Department officials said they determined it did not come from food made at the school.

“We are confident that the current cases of norovirus did not come from food prepared at the school,” Wasowski said. “We have also contacted all other Medina County schools to provide education through our Public Health School Nurse Program about norovirus and to monitor school absences for norovirus-like symptoms.”

The Health Department encourages anyone with symptoms to stay home from school.

“We encourage anyone throwing up or suffering from diarrhea, stomach pain or nausea to stay home for three days after recovering to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Lisa Strebler, director of public health nursing. “Symptoms may also include fever, headache and body aches.”

According to the Health Department, the best ways to minimize risk of infection are through proper hand washing, safe food handling and good hygiene.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.