Doctors report spike in norovirus cases during warmer months

Williamson County

There’s an alarming health trend in Williamson County as pediatricians are reporting a spike in the highly-contagious norovirus.

It is the same illness that sickened members of the Round Rock High School baseball team earlier this month. Health workers say parents often mistake it for food poisoning. 

Joanne Peacock is on high alert. She has three children, one of them attends a pre-school in Cedar Park. Earlier this week, the school sent home letters warning of a norovirus outbreak.

“She was in class with a friend who had the norovirus. And it was not good,” Peacock said. 

Since then she has been doing everything she can to keep the vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea at bay.

“All we can do is sanitize and cross our fingers,” she said. 

Dr. Goddy Corpuz, a pediatrician with Baylor, Scott and White in Cedar Park, said that hand washing is all Peacock and other parents can do.

He confirmed seeing a spike in cases, too. In the last week, Dr. Corpuz has treated two to three extra cases every day. 

He said the norovirus, which commonly appears on cruise ships, is out of season. But it usually attacks any place with many people, including schools, day care centers and restaurants.    

“We see this more during the winter season,” he said. “It’s usually passed from bad hygiene practices and contaminated food is the number one source.”

That is what happened earlier this month when several players on the Round Rock High School baseball team became ill after an awards banquet. The team thought food poisoning was to blame. Turns out norovirus was the culprit.

Williamson County and Cities Health District say it is averaging about one new case of food poisoning every week.

Dr. Corpuz said to tell the difference, the norovirus can linger.

“You may be sick for two or three days, but you can shed the virus in the stool a lot longer than that,” he said.

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