1/14/03 - School Sickness

The cold and flu alaways hits without any warning this time of year. But this time, the illnesses are ripping through at least four schools in Doniphan, Chaffee and New Hamburg and taking their toll on hundreds of children, forcing school officials to close school. According to health officials it's not the flu that's making these students sick, it's a combination of different illnesses that are easily spread.

Anthony Bryant has been coughing since Sunday. His mom Cindy says, "He woke up with a fever, sore throat, stomach ache." A seventh grader at Kelso C-7 in New Hamburg, Tuesday was Bryant's second day home from school, but it won't be counted as a sick day. Kelso principal David Newell says, "Since we came back from Christmas we've had anywhere from 2 to 12 out, last Friday we had 10 out." And the number has grown since then. 42 students went home sick Monday, that's a third of the students there.

Kay Griffin with the Scott County Health Department says, "This happens every year or two. We just have a lot of illness, kids are in classrooms, coughing, it's probably airborne and it's spreading." It's spreading in Chaffee too. More than 200 students are out sick. "It tends to be several different symptoms, not everyone one has the same symptoms." Some of the symptoms have been fever, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms bad enough to keep the desks empty until at least Thursday. "All these days will have to be made up and education is being lost," Principal Newell says."

Health officials say if your child is sick for more than 24 hours, go to the doctor before he spreads it to someone else, and be sure your child drinks plenty of fluids.