64 students, 5 faculty members remain out sick at Algiers school

64 students, 5 faculty members remain out sick at Algiers school

ALGIERS, LA (WVUE) - Of the 82 people who called out sick at an Algiers school on Tuesday, 13 made it back to school on Wednesday. Sixty-four students and five faculty members were still out sick, according to a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

St. Andrew the Apostle School shut down  Tuesday because of the excessive number of people who had the flu, the school told parents in an email Monday night.

"It hit us quickly. I think they're doing everything appropriately," said Christopher Hampton, the father of a kindergartner who was not sick.

On Wednesday, state epidemiologists went to the school to investigate the possibility of two different virus outbreaks. Dr. Raoult Ratard with the Department of Health and Hospitals said flu swab tests came back positive for 3 of the 4 students they were able to test on Tuesday. However, he said they're investigating whether the flu was not the only illness that spread around the school.

"It's not impossible that you happen to have two different outbreaks together," Ratard said. "It's rare, and in the cold weather- norovirus is doing very well."

Norovirus is a stomach bug that is spread by fecal matter.

Ratard said state epidemiologists went to the school Wednesday and handed out stool collection kits for students to take home, talk to their parents about using, and return to the school for DHH to pick up. Parents of kids who did return to school Wednesday said they'd do what they can to help.

"I think you probably have to, just to keep everyone safe," Hampton said.

Information would keep people safe, Ratard said, by identifying the illness and hopefully answering many more questions about the outbreak.

"You want to learn about how did the case happen. Is it one big outbreak? Or is one, and then a few more and then a few more? That gives you an idea that it was transmitted person to person," Ratard said.

Figuring out which virus it is can also help stop its spread.

"Typically the flu virus will die on a surface after about two to eight hours. Norovirus actually can live on surfaces at least a week, sometimes even longer than that," the Emergency Room Director at New Orleans Children's Hospital Dr. Aaron Thompson said.

It's why disinfection is so important.

"If that surface isn't decontaminated, it can keep infecting people over and over and over again," Thompson said.

When the school closed on Tuesday, the Archdiocese released the following statement:

"St. Andrew maintenance staff cleaned and disinfected surfaces at the school including desks to proactively prevent any more germs from spreading."

"I thought it was a good idea, and they just further asked that anyone that has a child that's sick be sure not to let them back until they've been free of a fever for 24 hours," Hampton said.

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