Union County: More than 170 people had symptoms of illness tied to school

Union County officials said Tuesday that more than 170 people had symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness tied to a Monroe elementary school.

All indications are that the illness was viral in nature, said Richard Matens, executive director of the county Department of Human Services.

Last week, the county began investigating what caused students, staff or people who visited Shiloh Elementary to have gastrointestinal problems that apparently started last Wednesday.

The most common symptoms were vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and loss of appetite, according to the county. In the most extreme case, one person had to visit a local emergency room Friday, Matens said.

He said the illness was a fast-acting one where the symptoms typically pass within 24 hours.

On its website, the school posted a survey link for people to fill out if they had experienced any of the symptoms. Based on those responses the county was able to estimate the number of people with symptoms, Matens said.

He said the county was sending samples to the state Division of Public Health on Tuesday for analysis to help determine the cause of the illness. The county hopes to know more about the illness in the next week or so.

Shiloh Elemetary was cleaned over the holiday weekend, Union County Public Schools spokeswoman Tahira Stalberte said Tuesday. “We’re preparing for a normal day today,” she added.

End-of-grade tests that had been scheduled for Friday were postponed until Tuesday, Stalberte said.

On Friday, 162 students out of 560 were absent, along with 11 teachers. That’s nearly a third of the student population.

On Tuesday, 45 students and two teachers were absent, Stalberte said. Tuesday also was the day after a holiday; the previous Tuesday saw 17 students absent from the school.

Bell: 704-358-5696;

Twitter: @abell

Shiloh Elementary