Russellville elementary school mystery illness under investigation

RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. - Russellville students are recovering Friday, but 14 elementary students still missed school due to a mysterious illness.

While the numbers of sick students is on the decline, what caused nearly 100 students to get sick in the first place is still under investigation.

The 14 sick students out Friday were a significant improvement over the 69 students who missed Wednesday.

The Cole County Health Department is still searching for answers, but is making progress after ruling out some of the possible causes.

School officials are awaiting the results of what caused a total of 91 students to become ill in the last four days.

"I've been in the administrator position for 22 years and haven't seen that number of kids at the end of a school year get sick and go home," said Superintendent Jerry Hobbs. "It's alarming to me."

Students first started having symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting Tuesday.

The Cole County Health Department first surveyed the cafeteria. Those results came back clean.

Samples are also being taken from sick students for lab testing.

Dr. Marie Peoples with the Cole County Health Department said their biggest concern is being able to give the families and school officials answers quickly.

Peoples is not concerned the illness will spread in the district and expects lab results early next week.

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