NEW YORK – Computers in companies, hospitals and schools around the world got stuck repeatedly rebooting themselves Wednesday after an antivirus program identified a normal Windows file as a virus.

Antivirus vendor McAfee Inc. confirmed that a software update posted at 9 a.m. Eastern time caused its antivirus program for corporate customers to misidentify a harmless file. It has posted a replacement update for download.

“We are not aware of significant impact on consumers and believe we have effectively limited such occurrence,” the company said in a statement.

Online posters begged to differ, saying thousands of computers running Windows XP with Service Pack 3 were affected.

At Rhode Island Hospital, the state’s biggest, the computer lockup prompted personnel to divert emergency room visitors without traumas to other hospitals. The hospital also postponed some elective surgeries. Patient care continued uninterrupted using backup procedures, according to Nancy Jean, spokeswoman for the health system.

In Kentucky, state police were told to shut down the computers in their patrol cars as technicians tried to fix the problem.