Manhattan High School (MHS) personnel notified Riley County Health Department (RCHD) about an apparent increase in students with gastrointestinal illness at the West Campus beginning August 18th. This included students who reported vomiting and diarrhea, without an alternate cause. RCHD and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) investigated these reports, including conducting telephone interviews and an online survey with MHS parents, students, faculty and staff.
In recent days, the number of absences due to nausea, vomiting or diarrhea have steadily declined. We have had several consecutive days of absenteeism below the median level of absenteeism for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years for this time of year (August - September). These numbers suggest that the outbreak of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea has returned to a level that we might otherwise expect at MHS this time of year. RCHD will continue to follow our normal monitoring protocol and collect weekly data on reported illness at USD 383 Schools.
We do not yet know the cause of the illnesses. KDHE is working with another public health laboratory in Minnesota that has additional testing capabilities that may help provide results that can help us identify the cause. Unfortunately, it is possible that we will not be able to determine the cause.
Parents should not send their students to school if they are ill, especially if they have a fever, are vomiting or have diarrhea.
Students, teachers, staff and the public as whole should continue regular hand washing, especially after using the toilet and before meals. Wash your hands under running water for at least 20 seconds (sing the Happy Birthday song twice!).