Thornhill Elementary School Facing Outbreak Of The Norovirus

FERRO Canada Inc. offers assistance on safe control options for Thornhill Elementary school and norovirus infection control – Symptoms and Treatment

In the news today Thornhill Woods Elementary school is facing an outbreak of the Norovirus.

Noroviruses are often confused with the stomach flu and food poisoning because they demonstrate several of the same symptoms (including nausea, vomiting, stomach pain/cramps and watery diarrhea), having dealt with this nasty virus once before I can attest that it was one of the worst bouts of illness I have ever wrestled with. Noroviruses (aka Norwalk virus) are a group of HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS viruses that cause inflammation and irritation of the stomach and large intestines and are the leading cause of gastroenteritis.

*Noroviruses, like other viruses, don't respond to antibiotics, which are designed to kill bacteria. No antiviral drug can treat noroviruses, but in healthy people the illness should go away on its own within a couple of days. Most people don't have any long-term problems from the virus.

To prevent dehydration, make sure to drink plenty of liquids, especially water and juices. Give children an oral rehydration solution (such as Pedialyte) to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Avoid sugary drinks, which can make diarrhea worse, as well as alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which can dehydrate you further.

Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness when standing, dry mouth, and a decrease in urination. If severe dehydration develops, contact your doctor. Severe dehydration is sometimes treated with intravenous (IV) fluids.

Good hygiene is the key to preventing an infection with norovirus, especially when you are in close surroundings with a lot of other people.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after going to the bathroom or changing a baby's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food.
  • Carefully dispose of any contaminated items (such as dirty diapers, Tissues etc.).
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces with a proper disinfectant after someone is sick.
  • If you have norovirus, don't prepare food for at least two to three days after you feel better. Try not to eat food that has been prepared by someone else who is sick.

As I was watching a father share his concern that his son (who attends Thornhill Woods Elementary) is exhibiting symptoms that were not consistent with the Norovirus but appeared to be more in line with Bleach irritation; it seems (according to his sources) that the custodians of the school are using this common cleaning product to disinfect the school as part of an intensive cleaning and infection control program.

While I commend the school and its staff for their prompt and heartfelt attention to this matter  the fact is the choice of disinfectant falls under a glorified urban legend.

Effective as a product whitener and disinfectant it still amazes me that people fail to realize how dangerous Chlorine Bleach can be. The fact is that bleach is HIGHLY CORROSIVE and causes many side effects especially if (as is often the case) used incorrectly! Negative side effects of bleach use include irritation of the eyes, skin and respiratory system – this is often the case when it is used at full strength and in greater quantities (contrary to best practices); excessive inhalation can even deteriorate the lungs and esophagus lining as well as scar the respiratory tract! Even more concerning is that if mixed with any other household cleaner that contains ammonia the combined fumes can lead to more serious symptoms such as nose bleeds, neurological disorders, headaches, shortness of breath and chest pain and in extreme cases even fatal.

So here is what I recommend to the Thornhill custodians, The Toronto District School Board and The York District School Board:

1) Stop using Bleach! There are a multitude of SAFE, effective anti-microbial/bacterial options that I’m happy to share (just call me for free advice – no strings attached)

2) If you MUST use Chlorine bleach at least be safe, Dilute it first, with water only. Always wear PPE (Personal Protective equipment) such as a proper safety mask (dust masks don’t count) rubber gloves and protective eyewear. Make sure you keep the area well ventilated to prevent elevated exposure during and after cleaning. And of course NEVER MIX with any other household cleaner! (see above)

I am at your disposal.


*excerpt from WebMD.

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