More than 200 Eagle Creek students out on May 14
May 14, 2009 · Updated 2:09 PM
ARLINGTON - Even the principal was home sick from Eagle Creek Elementary School Thursday, May 14, when 218 of its 529 students were also absent.
While school district officials can't say exactly how many of the absent students are sick with Norovirus, they do know the absences were up from 99 the day before.
"We are required by law to report to the health district if more than 10 percent of the school population is out sick," said Misti Gilman, the district's public information officer.
The school nurse, Christina Bassford, called the county health department after about 25 students were sent home from school with stomach flu symptoms Wednesday, May 13.
Health officials said the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea are consistent with a Norovirus-like illness, i.e. a rapidly spreading flu-bug.
"They emphasized that this gastrointestinal infection is not H1N1 'swine flu,'" Gilman said. "The symptoms are very different."
The health department said the flu is easily contained by following normal precautions. Keep sick kids home for an extra day after they seem healthy, and feed them lots of water.
"Kids were coming to the nurse's office all day Wednesday," Gilman said.
Norovirus infections spread quickly during the vomiting and diarrhea phase of the illness.
Nonetheless, health department officials said it is nothing to panic about. The most effective measures to contain its spread are to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, and to disinfect surfaces, including toilets, floors and countertops that may have been contaminated with vomit or stool.
“As a special precaution to keep our children healthy, Dr. Kristine McDuffy, Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, ordered extra cleaning
crews to sanitize doorknobs, desktops and other touchable surfaces,” Gilman said.
The norovirus was reported on the Wednesday night TV news after the district had published a warning to parents on it's "Connect Ed" website communication program.
So far the norovirus outbreak is isolated to Eagle Creek Elementary. "We believe 60 of the 218 absences are home as a precautionary measure or due to
illness other than the Norovirus," Gilman said.
Gilman suggests that parents should check the district's Web site at www.asd.wednet.edu for up-to-date information on the Norovirus, or call the
Snohomish County Health Department at 425-339-5278.
The county Health District and the Center for Disease Control are not recommending the school be closed.