Illness at SC school sends students home experiencing fever, vomiting and diarrhea

The Fresno Bee

A South Carolina elementary school is dealing with an outbreak that has impacted more than 100 students.

Westview Primary School in Goose Creek will be disinfected on Saturday after more than 140 first grade students were sent home Thursday suffering from the effects of an illness.

“There were an unusual number of absences today with several students sent home with vomiting. We wanted to make you aware so you can keep an eye out for symptoms fever, vomiting or diarrhea,” a post on the school’s Facebook page said.

The Berkeley County School District announced it will disinfect Westview Primary School. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will participate in the clean-up process, saying it has provided cleaning guidelines.

The clean-up process will begin at 8 a.m., according to the Berkeley County School District. That’s when its custodians and DHEC will begin disinfecting the school building.

Perhaps more importantly, DHEC will try to help determine the cause of the outbreak, which it says is currently unknown.

“DHEC is working closely with Westview Primary School in Berkeley County to determine the cause and prevent the spreading of a recent gastrointestinal sickness that has impacted the school,” the agency said in a statement, according to live5news.com.

The agency is asking for parents and faculty to help in the process. It might require getting their hands dirty.

“DHEC has requested stool samples for testing to help make that determination,” DHEC’s statement said. “The department is aware that more than 100 students and staff have reported illness with GI symptoms.”

It was more than 140 according to one parent of a Westview Primary School student.

Diane Etling said she saw students leaving the school in droves when she went to pick her daughter up early Thursday, according to postandcourier.com. She said a school nurse told her the school quit counting after it sent the 140th student home sick.

“It came on very fast, and it was like mass vomiting. I mean it sounds disgusting – it is disgusting – but it’s literally how it happened. It’s so bad that they ran out of the little biohazard bags they send home with the children that are sick, the little airplane sickness bags,” she said postandcourier.com reported.

The school’s Facebook post said “your child’s safety and well being is important to us.” But Etling said the school waited too long to notify parents, according to multiple reports.

So she took matters into her own hands. Shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday, Etling posted a warning about the illness on Facebook.

“If you have kiddos at Westview primary be on the lookout for a virus causing vomiting and diarrhea over a hundred plus kids set home plus teachers they were dropping like flies,” she wrote.

Information about the illness and how to prevent spreading it

DHEC has provided cleaning guidelines, hand hygiene information, and input for a letter from the school for distribution to parents. To help prevent the spread of viruses, we strongly recommend everyone wash their hand frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before handling food items.

Family members should use separate hand towels for two to three weeks after symptoms go away. Another excellent way to prevent the spreading of viruses is to clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces such as doorknobs, faucets, and commodes.

Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Also, keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.

SOURCE: S.C. Dept. of Health & Environmental Control