Unknown virus spreads at New Berlin elementary school

NEW BERLIN (WITI) -- Waukesha County health officials are investigating an unknown virus that has caused about ten percent of students at Ronald Reagan Elementary School to become ill.

Principal Cory Whitsell says a number of students were absent on Thursday, May 2nd, and throughout the day several kids came to the office feeling sick.

"Our number one priority is the safety and well being of students and staff," says Whitsell.

Epidemiologist Benjamen Jones says the children's symptoms, primarily nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, are indicative of Norovirus, but the actual cause of sickness is still unknown.

"We implemented an investigation and right now we're trying to get kids tested to figure out if there are any commonalities between them," says Jones.

Test kits are being made available so samples can be sent to the state for testing. Jones hopes to have the results by next week.

In addition, the school will undergo a deep cleaning over the weekend.

"We increased our cleaning crew so really a deep cleaning of all hard surfaces, anything that has contact with hands and that sort of thing. Just making sure we are getting every nook and cranny at this point," adds Principal Whitsell.

Health officials say protecting yourself is simple.

"Hand hygiene is the biggest thing -- the most common way it's spread. There is no treatment for it other than practicing hygiene and staying home while you're sick to prevent possibly infecting other people," says Jones.

School officials and the Waukesha County Public Health Division sent a letter to parents. Children were asked to see their doctors if they are feeling ill, and to stay out of school for an additional 48 hours after being symptom free.