ADPH investigating cause of illness at Fayetteville High
by MARK LEDBETTER
FAYETTEVILLE — Gayle Jones, public relations director for the Talladega County Board of Education reported Wednesday that 32 Fayetteville High School students, five staff members and three community members have reported stomach flu-like symptoms.

Though the exact cause of the sickness is inconclusive, authorities suspect it originated with food brought in from the community for a pre-game meal last Friday for the football team.

The students involved included football players, cheerleaders, band members and video-support. Community members who reported being sick were also participants in the pre-game meal.

Jones said the Board of Education is cooperating with Alabama Department of Public Health in their investigation of the incident.

Local investigations have been conducted by Robby Stubbs and Kelly Browning Jones. Stubbs referred inquiries to the ADPH’s Department of Epidemiology at the Montgomery office.

Epidemiology is the branch of medicine that deals with the study of the causes, distribution and control of disease in a population.

Representing the ADPH, Dr. Mary McIntyre said the department had environmental investigators working in the field.

“The local people are being very helpful with the investigations, lining up interviews,” McIntyre said.

“We have specimens that are in the lab but have not yet determined the organism responsible,” McIntyre said. “Hopefully soon we will know, and soon is within the next 24-48 hours.”

Jones said that football coach John Limbaugh still had some of the food from the meal and the investigators were able to test it with the hopes of discovering the cause of the outbreak.

Jones said 30 students were unable to attend classes Tuesday and some were reported to have returned to class Wednesday. Three students and one volunteer were hospitalized.

After considering the circumstances, Jones said FHS Principal Byron Brasher and Limbaugh have determined it is best to cancel Friday’s game with Verbena.

“Safety and the well-being of our students are at the forefront,” Jones said. “We want our students to be at their best health.”

Contact Mark Ledbetter at mledbetter@dailyhome.com

© 2012