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More than 100 Person County students, teachers sent home due to illness

Posted September 2, 2015
Updated September 3, 2015

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— Parents in Person County got an automated message Wednesday from Superintendent Danny Holloman that more than 100 students and teachers had been sent home from three schools due to a gastrointestinal outbreak.

Approximately 86 students and six teachers from Person High School, 17 students from Helena Elementary School and three students from Woodland Elementary School experienced "virus-type symptoms" and many were sent home, Holloman said.

He described the symptoms as low-grade fever, diarrhea and vomiting, and urged students and teachers to wash their hands frequently using soap and water.

Holloman realized something was going around just before lunch time, when large numbers of students were going home sick.

"A few of our teachers had also gone home, Holloman said. "A few of our teachers who never go home."

A few of them ended up down the street from the high school as FastMed Urgent Care.

"Your classic nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, typical abdominal bloating or cramping," said Caitlyn Coates with FastMed. "Typically, four to five days is the run for a virus like this. And is it fun? Absolutely not."

Clyde Bates, a sophomore at Person High School, said the illness was a distraction throughout the school day.

"Some people were cautious and staying away from people," he said. "They were not really touching stuff that was left around on the desk and all that. The teachers kept making us clean our area with Clorox wipes before we left class."

According to the Person County Health Department, a local doctor's office experienced a similar situation with several patients and staff members coming down with virus-like symptoms last week. The North Carolina Division of Public Health asked that samples be collected from students to use for testing. The samples will be tested for both norovirus and other enteric pathogens, officials said.

"They do want the health department to get some information from us on some of the students that have experienced this, and possibly teachers so they can try to get samples for testing to better clarify what this is," Holloman said. "Is it a virus? Is it something else? Obviously we are always worried about something like that."

Coates urged students to avoid sharing personal things, like food, drinks, and hygienic items and advised frequent hand-washing. The district also took extra precautions Wednesday night when cleaning school buildings.

The cause of the sickness was not immediately known, but Holloman said school will continue as scheduled on Thursday.

Coates said that certain symptoms, including a fever higher than 102.5 degrees, confusion, or blood in diarrhea or vomit should prompt a visit to a healthcare professional.

8 Comments

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  • Moon Binder Sep 5, 2015
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    Did they happen to serve Mexican cucumbers at the schools? CNN just ran an item about there being salmonella issues. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/04/health/arizona-salmonella-outbreak/index.html

  • Jim Hugs Sep 3, 2015
    user avatar

    If I had to eat that square pizza everyday id be runnin to the bathroom too.

  • K Hope Capps Sep 3, 2015
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    Almost 700 CHILDREN in Person County are sick. That's actually kind of frightening. I don't blame them for wanting answers from doctors.

  • Johan Summer Sep 3, 2015
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    Hope the teachers and students who got sick get better soon. Regardless of the culprit, those symptoms described are bad to deal with.

  • Anne Havisham Sep 3, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    Mr. Lewis, I agree with you --- to a point. Those symptoms, in and of themselves, are not cause for alarm.

    But if I were a teacher or parent of a child there, and that many people in one place were getting sick at the same time, I would want a few people with medical licences assuring me that it wasn't food poisoning (which is often a "gastro bug" of a sort), a problem in the water system, or something else.

    It seems to me that the purpose of the article is to prevent panic, not to start it.

  • K Hope Capps Sep 3, 2015
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    View quoted thread



    THIS.

  • Martha Matthews Sep 3, 2015
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    Yes it is common, but when there are that many people experiencing the symptoms at the same time, it is wise to have it checked.

  • Norman Lewis Sep 3, 2015
    user avatar

    Little cramping, vomiting and diarrhea and they run to the MD? What happened to common sense and wait it out? Why does everyone think every medical issue requires medical intervention? My first thought under those circumstances would be a gastro bug and keep fluids going for a few days not run to the Doctor because 9 times out of 10. he/she would tell you just what common sense would say. Might as well run to the Doctor for a headache or bruise or cure for the common cold when you feel the sniffles. The only purpose of this story was to incite general panic over a COMMON incident.