Mystery illness hits outdoor ed students in Marin Co.

February 3, 2011 12:41:09 PM PST
A mystery illness has forced dozens of Bay Area students and teachers to leave a school field trip. They started getting sick with flu-like symptoms Wednesday during a five day science trip in Marin County at the Walker Creek Ranch, near Petaluma. The cause is still unknown.

The Marin County Health Department is looking at four possibilities:

1) Could it be food poisoning?
2) Was the food tainted by a food handler?
3) Could it be the water?
4) Or could it just be some gastrointestinal virus?

A bunch of kids were sent home Wednesday night. The remaining kids were either bussed home this morning or picked-up by parents. About 250 students were at Walker Creek Ranch this week for a five day camp. It consisted of 5th and 6th grade classes from Danville, Oakland and Novato. It also included about 20 high school students, acting like camp counselors.

Wednesday, a handful of kids started coming down with flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting. By midnight, 65 students and two teachers feel ill. Paramedics came and treated the kids on scene.

"They got in touch with the medical staff at Marin County General Hospital. They advised that it would be best, with an abundance of caution, that the students that were on site, return home where they could be managed and cared for by parents," Luke McCann of the Marin Co. Office of Education.

Ironically, the school says the county just came Wednesday to do its annual food safety inspection and the results came out clean. The school also frequently checks its water and those levels were normal. The school is part of the Marin County office of education and holds a five day camp every week, that focuses on science.

Next week's camp is still planned for now, depending on the test results. No word on when those results will be back.