Babylon High School, where more than 80 students suffered from...

Babylon High School, where more than 80 students suffered from a stomach virus. Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

Suffolk County health officials said Wednesday they are not sure why more than 80 Babylon High School students were out sick last Friday but suspect an outbreak of norovirus, a common and highly contagious gastrointestinal illness.

The high school’s kitchen and food service areas were inspected by the county health department, but there was no indication the outbreak originated in the cafeteria, officials said. An investigation is ongoing.

The outbreak appears to be confined to the high school, with a few cases among elementary grades late last week, officials said.

“Norovirus has been circulating throughout the U.S. for the last few months as it does every year,” said Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott. “We advise people to continue to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and disinfect surfaces to avoid coming into contact with pathogens that cause norovirus.”

School officials said there were a number of students and staff vomiting and experiencing nausea Friday. The district contacted the county health department and custodial staff sanitized surfaces over the weekend.

Earlier this month, Newsday reported cases of norovirus were on the rise on Long Island.

The virus spreads through direct contact with a person who is infected, sharing food, eating food handled by them or touching the same surfaces, officials said.

The symptoms, which include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and fever, usually end in about three days.

“While the outbreak was concerning, we suspected it was viral based on what has been reported in the media over the last few months about the symptoms of the norovirus,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Brian L. Conboy told Newsday in an email Wednesday evening. "We are thankful for the assistance of the Suffolk County Health Department, and that our students are steadily returning to school feeling well.”

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