Friday, September 28, 2012

Central Illinois elementary school closed after half its students call in sick

ASHMORE — A stomach ailment, not food poisoning, might have been the cause of the illness that kept about half of Ashmore Elementary School’s students out of school Wednesday, a Coles County health official said.
Investigators “seriously doubt” that food was the cause of the illness that sickened enough of the school’s students and staff for district officials to order the school closed Wednesday, county health department director Dan Stretch said.
Stretch said there doesn’t appear to be any “common food” that those who became ill and those who did not both ate. Based on interviews, the department found about as many of the ill students ate the school lunch as did not, he said.
Fifty-five of the school’s 100 students were absent again Thursday, Charleston School District Superintendent Jim Littleford said. About 40 of them were still ill or still had some symptoms, while parents kept the rest home as a precaution, he said.
The illness also affected five of the school’s 14 staff members, but all but one of them, a custodian, were back at school Thursday, Littleford said.
Stretch said the health department is trying to collect stool samples from some of the infected people so they can be sent to the Illinois Department of Public Health for testing. He didn’t know when tests might be complete.

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