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Marion County’s East Marion Elementary School Fights Infectious Outbreak

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A mere 200 students were out sick Monday at East Marion Elementary School — down from Friday’s 280.

Seven staff members and three cafeteria workers were also out Monday with a suspected enteric, or intestinal, infection outbreak that may be the cause of all the absences.

“The number is down from Friday, but it is still higher than we want it to be,” said Kevin Christian, Marion County Public Schools spokesman.

An enteric infection affects the intestines and can come in many forms. The most well-known is the norovirus, which is commonly seen on cruise ships. The infection is spread through contaminated food, water or direct contact with an infected individual, rather than through the air like some viruses.

The infection usually dies within 48 to 72 hours. The Florida Department of Health in Marion County has not yet received any official results specifying what type of enteric infection caused the outbreak.

“We are encouraging parents if their kids show any kind of sickness from East Marion Elementary to please keep those kids at home,” Christian said.

In an effort to prevent the infection from spreading, custodial staff members are wiping down every surface throughout the school as well as using decontamination foggers.

Christian said the school needs the full cooperation from the community in order to get out of this as unharmed as possible.

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