Roughly 50 educators were sickened by norovirus after a catered teacher appreciation luncheon on May 9 at Clark Elementary School in Tampa, health officials confirmed Thursday.
More than 100 staff members ate the food, which was provided by a local restaurant. Approximately half of them became sick afterward.
As of this week, authorities say they don't believe any students got ill. A school official said there is no outbreak on campus.
"Following an investigation by the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, the norovirus was identified as the cause," a state health official told 10News in a statement. "A joint inspection with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, who has jurisdiction over restaurant inspections, was carried out at the restaurant that catered the food."
Investigators believe employees with norovirus-like symptoms were involved in preparing the food that was served by the restaurant.
Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhea, vomiting, low-grade fever, abdominal pain, nausea and headaches, according to health officials. The Florida Department of Health said most cases are mild and only last 1-3 days, but severe complications like dehydration can happen.
"This illness can be easily spread from person-to-person or through contaminated food or water," the health department wrote in a letter.
Anyone with symptoms of norovirus should not return to work, school or any child care facilities until 48 hours after all symptoms have stopped. And, you should see a doctor if symptoms last longer than three days.
The single most important way to prevent it from spreading is by washing your hands. While hand sanitizers are effective against cold and flu viruses, they don't protect you against this virus or many others that cause gastrointestinal illness.
If you have questions about norovirus, you are urged to call the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County's Epidemiology Program at 813-307-8010.
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