Holmen school sees ‘stomach bug’ outbreak, cancels conferences

An outbreak of the stomach bug, otherwise known as gastrointestinal illness has spread to more than 50 students at Evergreen Elementary School in Holmen.

An usual number of parents called the school yesterday to report their children were absent due to the stomach bug.

So to avoid the illness from spreading even more, school officials canceled all parent-teacher conferences and after school programs Thursday.

They’ve been in touch with the La Crosse County Health Department for the necessary steps they needed to take.

“We got a call from the nurse and she noticed that they had an unusually large amount of students out in two particular grades actually the fourth and fifth grade,” said Public Health Nurse Joe Larson.

Larson says in some cases, almost half of the class was out with specific symptoms.

He says the stomach bug is a common illness, but it’s rare for that many students to be affected at once.

“So over that kind of 15 percent threshold, it happens once in a while but for the most part they stay pretty consistent.”

School officials sent out a letter to parents letting them know that conferences and after school programs were cancelled Thursday in order for the school to undergo thorough cleaning, which Larson says takes a lot more than Clorox wipes or sprays.

“One thing that research is showing is that the only thing that really kills this bug is a bleach water solution, so what we’re recommending that the school does, is mix about three quarters of the cup of concentrated bleach with a gallon of water, and you wipe that on the counters, let it sit for about five minutes.”

Mayo Clinic Pediatrics consultant Charles Peters recommends following specific guidelines to prevent students from further spreading the illness.

“We strongly urge them to stay home and to rest and take in plenty of fluids and avoid food that make either vomiting or diarrhea worse.”

County health officials say in regards to the outbreak, there was no connection to food.

They are recommending that parents keep their children home 48 hours even after they’re feeling well.

It is also recommended that parents temporarily avoid sending home-prepared foods to school for classroom-shared treats.