Mystery illness sickening Tabor students and faculty

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Hillsboro, Kan. -- Tabor College senior Ryan Nelson had what started as a normal Tuesday of classes then work. But by early Tuesday evening normal came to sickening end.

Nelson says, "By seven o'clock that night I started throwing up. Just really having bad body aches and everything."

He missed class and discovers he wasn't alone in his misery. "But then I found out a ton of other people on campus got sick as well."

Tabor's Director of Communications Katrina Hancock says, "By Tuesday night we've got at least 30 kids had got sick with stomach cramping and diarrhea and vomiting."

And the number of sick has grown since then she says, "I'd say anywhere from 30 to 50 students and faculty that were affected by this. About 20 percent of our campus has gotten it."

The high number is getting the attention of local and state health departments.

Marion County Health Department Director Diedre Serene says, "We're in contact with KDHE and we'll be doing an investigation."

At first some thought it might be food poisoning from the school cafeteria. But then some of the students getting ill hadn't eaten in the cafeteria.

Hancock says local physicians say a stomach virus making the rounds is to blame. "They said it was flu-like symptoms. It was definitely a stomach bug."

Tabor College Sophomore Jared Slavens says, "That bug was just terrible. Started throwing up and was just sick the next few days."

One theory is students contracted the virus while on spring break the week before and returned to Tabor with it and then it spread.

The school emailed students encouraging to stay hydrated if they contract the illness and reminding students to contact faculty if they're unable to attend class.

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