Students suffering from virus

PLAINVIEW - An outbreak of illness on the Wayland Baptist University campus last week prompted an investigation by the Plainview-Hale County Health Department into the possibility of food poisoning. On Monday, Environmental Health Inspector Jack McCasland ruled out food poisoning, saying lab results turned up nothing that would indicate a food-borne illness.

"If anyone asks me, it is a viral thing. Nothing at all grew out of the cultures," said McCasland who will put the finishing touches on his investigation this week. "There is really no difference between this and the flu going through campus. What do you do when the flu goes through there? You just buckle up and keep going."

McCasland has not found a common denominator among the students he interviewed last Thursday and Friday, but will conduct several more interviews this week to officially conclude the investigation.

The Wayland administration, school nurse and Sodexho Services, which operates the cafeteria on a contract basis, have worked with McCasland in an attempt to find the cause of the illness.

"I would like to thank Josie Gomez (Wayland's nurse) and Sodexho for being so cooperative with everything that was asked of them to help in the investigation," said Dr. Claude Lusk, WBU Vice President for Enrollment Management.

"Due to the hard work of the people involved, it really didn't disrupt the normal flow of things," Lusk said. "The cafeteria was never taken off line and service to the students was never halted or diminished, which is very important heading into finals week."

Lusk said the administration will continue to take every precaution it can to help prevent the spread of illness.

"Our primary concern continues to be the health of the students," he said. "Along with the Health Department we will encourage the students to take actions that will reduce their likelihood of getting sick."

McCasland said the enclosed campus environment adds to the rapid spread of such a virus. Wayland students suffered from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms lasted about 24 hours on average.

"Any time you have a viral infection and you have an enclosed environment, you have a greater chance of infecting other people," he said.

He added that the only way to slow the progression of the virus is for students to maintain personal hygiene, such as washing their hands at every opportunity, and for those who are ill to stay at home.