BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Nearly 200 students at a Berkeley County elementary school were reported absent Monday morning as school and health officials continue to battle an illness that began making its way around the school last week.
Berkeley County School District spokesperson Chip Sturgis says 199 students and 24 employees were reported absent at Whitesville Elementary School Monday. Another 43 students were sent home sick throughout the day, Sturgis said.
The state's Department of Health and Environmental Control is working to identify the cause of the illness, and epidemiologists with the department are trying to determine whether the cause was viral or bacterial.
Symptoms identified by those affected included nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, vomiting and body aches.
Workers spent the weekend cleaning the school with a bleach solution DHEC recommended after 100 students were absent Friday and an additional 40 students were sent home sick. Carpets and rugs were shampooed as well.
Berkeley County School District officials tell us the buses used to transport students to the school were also cleaned and the school was cleaned again on Monday.
Sturgis says it is unknown if students were kept home Monday because they were sick or as a precaution. But he said parents who notice their child has displayed any of the symptoms within the last 48 hours should keep their child home. Children with signs or symptoms of the illness should stay home until they have been free of the symptoms for at least 48 hours, Sturgis said.
Any surfaces in the home contaminated with body fluids or waste should be cleaned with a bleach and water solution, and parents should help their children maintain good hygiene and ensure children wash their hands often with warm water and soap.
Sturgis says children who have been absent, due to the virus, can be medically excused with a note from their parent.
Whitesville Elementary School has a total of 1,113 students enrolled.