Health department has no answer for what made swimmers sick

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WEST JORDAN -- Doctors at the Salt Lake Valley Health Department are trying to get to the bottom of a mystery illness that struck dozens of high school athletes at a swim meet in St. George.

The agency has identified a family member of one swimmer who tested positive for a virus, but doctors still aren't certain what caused all those swimmers to get sick.

Upwards of 30 swimmers from several high schools began feeling sick and vomiting after last week's swim meet at Sand Hollow Aquatic Center in Washington County. Two of the hardest hit schools were Bingham and Copper Hills High School.

**What is… a norovirus?**
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the "stomach flu," or gastroenteritis in people. Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. People can become infected with the virus by:
• Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus • Touching contaminated surfaces or objects, then placing their hand in their mouth • Having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms
The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. - *CDC*
"We had kids dropping like flies with illness," said Copper Hills Principal Todd Quarnberg. "I had kids at the pool nauseous, sick. We had them in the office at the pool on couches, over garbage cans; we had them on the front lawn." The Salt Lake Valley Health Department has identified one case--the parent of a Bingham High student who tested positive for the norovirus.

**Symptoms of norovirus**
• Nausea • Vomiting • Diarrhea • some stomach cramping Sometimes: • low-grade fever • chills • headache • muscle aches • tiredness - *CDC*
"We're investigating an outbreak of diarrheal illness, and what we know is that a parent of one of the students on the swim team tested positive for norovirus, so far. We're collecting information from students that are ill about places they ate and water exposure," said Ilene Risk, and epidemiologist at the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. The Copper Hills principal said everyone was fine until they got to the pool.

Southwest Utah Health Department said it tested the pool water, and it came back clean. Students now seem to be on the mend, but the incident did rattle school officials, the swimmers and the parents.

"Of course we're concerned about H1N1. My parents are concerned about H1N1. So, when a kid gets sick like that, you're concerned about how contagious it is and so on and so forth," Quarnberg said.

Officials at the health department said they're hoping to learn more about this, but it's possible the number of cases has spiked. Those who got sick last weekend seem to recovering, so they're not sure if they'll be able to figure out what made everyone sick.


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