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Stomach Bug Bites Hundreds of Students

By Susy Solis
|  Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 2:41 PM CDT
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<a title=Rockwall High School works to stop a nasty stomach bug from spreading after reporting about 16 percent of its student body absent." />

Susy Solis, NBCDFW.com

Rockwall High School works to stop a nasty stomach bug from spreading after reporting about 16 percent of its student body absent.

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With nearly 400 students out sick, school just wasn't the same Monday at Rockwall High School.

Ten teachers and about 16.5 percent of the student body were absent, many complaining of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Rockwall Independent School District spokeswoman Sheri Fowler said the normal absentee rate is 3 to 8 percent.

"A lot of the teachers were gone," junior Lauren Janicki said. "In one (of) my classes, like 15 kids were gone."

Doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall said they've seen a spike in patients with a stomach virus.

"The primary symptoms are nausea and vomiting, and then followed shortly thereafter with diarrhea, some low-grade fevers, headaches, body aches, backaches," said Dr. Greg Bonacquisti, the hospital's medical director

Doctors said It's no surprise that so many are infected, because the bug is highly contagious.

"These kids will pick it up just by coughing, respiratorily spread -- touching things, grabbing a doorknob," Bonacquisti said.

Crews worked late into the night to sanitize the school, hoping to stop the spread of the virus.

"We're also doing heavy cleaning in areas where we've seen concentrations of the illness -- in our athletic departments, our cheer and drill areas, as well as our other classrooms," Fowler said.

The virus is easy to avoid as long as students use good hygiene.

"If everybody continually washes their hands, they won't spread it, but it's poor hygiene that generally spreads these viruses," Bonacquisti said.

The district will monitor all of its schools. Closing schools for disinfection is an option if the virus seems to be spreading at a higher rate. But for now, the district is asking parents with sick children to keep them at home.

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