Mystery Illness Spreads Through Kansas High School

Manhattan High School, MHS

MANHATTAN, Kans. (KSNT) – The number of students being sent home at a local high school due to an illness continues to increase daily.

KSNT News contacted USD 383 Tuesday afternoon who says another 10 students have been sent home since noon by the school nurse making the total number of people sent home sick 67.

KSNT News spoke with Riley County Health Department Director Jennifer Green early Monday afternoon. She said there are now 54 reported cases of students sick with vomiting and nausea symptoms.  These cases were reported from Manhattan High’s West Campus and illnesses were reported last week. Three faculty members have also been sent home sick.

Manhattan High School Principal Greg Hoyt says sending this many students home in one week isn’t something you’d see even during the flu season.

Riley County Health Department is asking parents of sick students to provide samples to the health department, located at 2030 Tecumseh Rd. in Manhattan. The number is 785-776-4779.  Green said her staff has also contacted several other area school districts but no other similar cases are being reported.

The samples mentioned consist of testing a sample of stool (feces) from all ill (or recently ill) person.  During outbreaks, local health departments can provide stool collection kits to anybody willing to submit a sample. The kit will come with instructions and testing will be conducted at the Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratory, which is part of KDHE.

Parents are also being asked to keep students home if vomiting, nausea or diarrhea symptoms are present and once they don’t have the symptoms to say home one additional day just to be sure the illness is gone.

KDHE says whether an outbreak spreads depends on what disease is causing illness and how it is transmitted.  Many gastrointestinal illnesses can be spread person-to-person as well as through contaminated food or water. It is not unlikely for these illnesses to spread to family members or other persons in close contact with the ill person.  Ill persons can be contagious for a period of time before and after they are experiencing symptoms, and there is a period of time after infection before people start feeling ill. It is important to wash your hands and stay home from school or work when you are sick to help prevent from spreading illness.

The school still does not have any information from the Riley County Health Department or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

KSNT News continues to follow this story daily and will update as new information develops.


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