Officials identify virus that inflicted nearly 200 at NC school

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UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Nearly 200 people were reported sick with a gastrointestinal illness at a Union County elementary school, WCNC reported.

The culprit: the fast-spreading norovirus.

People began having symptoms last week at Shiloh Elementary. Last Friday, 162 students and 11 teachers were absent.

All four samples sent to a state laboratory tested positive for norovirus, according to WCNC.

Health officials said norovirus inflames the stomach and intestines, is very contagious, and can spread from person-to-person through contaminated food or water or through touching contaminated surfaces.

Norovirus causes stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting.

Hand washing is key to preventing the spread.

There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral (not a bacterial) infection.