Norovirus outbreak hits hundreds of El Rio students

Up to 500 students attending the Oxnard-area el Rio School District may have contracted norovirus in early March, say Ventura County Public Health Department officials.

Rio Plaza Elementary School seems to have taken the brunt of the outbreak. On March 8, dozens of students reported symptoms associated with the virus, including vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and fever. The virus can spread through food and contact with contaminated surfaces, and is infamous for wrecking cruise vacations.

“We’re following these cases closely and are encouraged that it seems to be on the decline, though we will continue to monitor it,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin, adding that the likelihood of finding the source of the outbreak is slim.

Norovirus is very common, and the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 1 in 5 Americans will be exposed to the virus in any given year. To lower your risk of contracting it, officials suggest washing your hands, especially after using the restroom and before eating or drinking. Those who have contracted the virus are urged to remain in isolation for three to five days until symptoms subside.

Supervisor Kelly Long opens Port Hueneme office

Supervisor Kelly Long, District Three, has announced that Field Representative Matt Guthrie will conduct satellite office hours in Port Hueneme beginning this month to “best serve the needs of our constituents.”

Office hours will begin on Friday, March 31, at the Port Hueneme Chamber of Commerce office located at 529 W. Channel Islands Blvd., Port Hueneme, from 9 a.m. to noon every other Friday.

“This new office in Port Hueneme makes the third satellite location, following Santa Paula and Fillmore,” said Long. “Accessibility for the public is critical, and I am committed to ensuring we deliver that.”

Constituents who wish to make an appointment may call 654-2276, or simply drop by and ask for Mr. Guthrie.

Food waste tackled at Channel Islands Farmers Market

An expansion of Food Forward’s Farmers Market Recovery Program is coming to the Channel Islands Harbor’s farmers market beginning on April 16, the 20th such farmers market in the program.

Since launching in 2012, the program has donated over 1.5 million pounds of surplus produce recovered from Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. While most of the produce brought to the CI Farmers Market is sold, inevitably there remains some leftover. Food Forward volunteers distribute boxes to farmers who wish to donate; and when the market closes, donations are weighed and donated to direct-service agencies within a 10-mile radius of the market.

Beneficiary organizations will include Food Share, Catholic Charities, Help of Ojai and Project Understanding.

To donate or volunteer for the program, visit www.foodforward.org.

Popular parade pig pops, postmortem performed, pronounced passed

Beloved County Ventura St. Patrick’s Day float and noted green pig Sham Hock has passed away after nearly three decades entertaining revelers. The 12-foot-tall, 20-foot-wide Hock, whose charm and evergreen smile brought joy to thousands, burst at the seams on Saturday, March 11, nearing the parade’s end.

Emergency responders determined that the seam was irreparable, and pronounced Hock dead on the scene. An autopsy revealed Hock to have had an enlarged heart, possibly from all of the love he shared and was given by the community.

“It will need to go to its resting place in Pig Heaven,” said Nan Drake, co-chair of the parade’s organizing committee. “Plans are underway for a proper Irish wake.”

Drake says that replacing Hock would be a “tough effort” and that a fundraiser may need to be held. Hock is survived by three little pigs.