Local and state health officials are currently investigating the cause of a mysterious flu-like illness that ripped through competitors and attendees who attended a Washington state cheerleading competition last Saturday.
Since the event, held at Everett’s Comcast Arena, 192 have reported the illness which includes vomiting, diarrhea, fever, possible stomach cramps, and headaches. The illness is comparable to norovirus, rotavirus and food sickness, but the cause of the outbreak is still unknown.
The only thing the sick individuals have in common is that they either competed in or attended this particular competition. Around 20 of the 54 squads were effected with the illness, several requiring hospitalization. There were about 3,000 who attended in addition to more than 1,000 cheerleading participants.
“I went to our state championship and everyone was totally fine and I was totally fine until the next day,” Said 16-year-old Ana Krafchick. “I woke up in the middle of the night feeling really nauseous and that’s when everything started, basically I was throwing up all night. I ended up blacking out and having to go to the hospital.”
While at the hospital, Ana and her mother received texts from Ana’s teammates reporting the same sickness. Krafchick at first thought it was food illness until she heard about multiple squads with the same symptoms.
“It worried me that it might not be normal.”
KOMO-TV reported that “there have been reports of students suffering symptoms at Puget Sound-area high schools including Marysville, Ballard, Juanita, Mount Si and Skyline” with both a coach and principal at one school sickened.
A local health district spokesman told The Daily Herald of Everett that Pierce and Kitsap county students may have become ill as well.
Health officials from Grant county district have also studied a similar outbreak with residents in long-term care facilities.
The Comcast arena has since been wiped down and disinfected. Lab results from some of the sickened individuals are still pending.
In the words of one state health department spokesman, “This could turn out to be quite a large number of people who are sick.”
Please read other articles by Heather Callaghan here.