From the Health Dept.

Special Edition

Excellent Info for Your Family

To: Pierce County Schools

From: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

Communicable Disease Control

(253) 798-6410


In the last few weeks, the Health Department has received reports of several outbreaks in the county of what we think is probably norovirus infection. The symptoms are predominately nausea and vomiting; some persons also have diarrhea. Many persons also experience headache, mild fever, and generalized body aches. This morning we learned of a norovirus outbreak in a school in Seattle that has resulted in school being closed today.

The illness tends to last only 24 to 48 hours and is generally not life-threatening. However, it is highly contagious through vomitus or stool, especially in places where a lot of people gather or share meals. When it hits a school, absenteeism can be tremendous.


Also, in the past two weeks, several schools have reported absenteeism of over 10% and some of the schools have reported confirmed influenza cases. We are definitely seeing an increase of influenza-like illness in visits to emergency departments and urgent care clinics. Influenza activity is increasing statewide and across the country.

What can you do?

Although norovirus-like illness and influenza are not related, both are common in winter and frequently cause outbreaks. When we are seeing an increase in these types of illnesses, it is a good time to remind people of the value of hand washing & hand sanitizers, staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and getting a flu vaccine. For norovirus, hand hygiene is especially important prior to eating and after using the bathroom.

There is helpful information on the Health Department website:

As always, let us know about absenteeism over 10%:

    • Call (253) 798-6534 and leave the following information:
      • Your name, phone number and the school you are calling from.
      • The number of students absent and the number of students enrolled.
      • The predominant symptoms that the parents are reporting, if you have that information.
    • If you need to speak to one of the nurses, please call (253) 798-6410.