Mysterious Illness Under Investigation in Russellville Schools

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COLE COUNTY - Cole County health officials said late Thursday students at Cole R-1 elementary and middle school are showing symptoms of a mysterious illness. The health department launched a disease investigation to try to determine the cause of the illness.

In the news release, the department said parents began reporting the disease around 2:15 p.m. Wednesday. The health department then contacted school officials who confirmed the illness.

The health department said it has established the number of students and staff reporting illness, symptoms of the illness, onset date and times of symptoms.

The possible risk factors or exposure to the illness is unknown at this time, but the health department is conducting an epidemiological investigation that will collect specimens from ill or recently ill students to find out the potential danger.

The investigation will also include analyzing data obtained from school officials and parents to determine etiology and performing an environmental sanitation of food preparation and serving facilities.

The health department said in the release the nature of the illness will not be known until specimens from ill students are returned from the state health laboratory.

The health department recommends parents with ill students contact their health care provider if the symptoms worsen. Preventive measures such as proper hand washing practice, cleaning and disinfecting, and keeping students at home until their health improves is also recommended.