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Nearly 200 now report becoming ill after cheerleading event

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EVERETT -- Nearly 200 people in Washington have reported being sickened with vomiting and diarrhea after attending Saturday's statewide cheerleading competition at Comcast Arena.
In Snohomish County, 41 people who attended Saturday's event became ill.
Those numbers are only expected to grow over the next few days, state Department of Health officials said Thursday.
The cause of the illnesses remains a mystery. Intestinal illnesses can be caused by a variety of viruses or bacteria.
One example is the norovirus, the so-called cruise ship disease. It's highly contagious, causing 20 million to become ill nationally each year with similar symptoms.
"We're looking for information that might point to common exposures or activities," said Donn Moyer, a state Department of Health spokesman.
Samples are being collected from patients that will be sent to the state health agency's laboratory to try to determine the cause of the illnesses.
The 192 people statewide who reported they were sickened were the first wave of responses to an electronic survey sent to the 1,000 members of cheerleading squads and dance teams by health officials to try to determine the scope of the disease outbreak.
In addition to the cheerleader and dance teams, an additional 3,000 people attended the event.
More than 500 surveys from participants and their families have been returned, Moyer said.
High school cheerleading and dance teams participating in Saturday's statewide competition included Snohomish, Everett, Marysville Pilchuck, Meadowdale and Oak Harbor.
The Snohomish Health District is still compiling information on the ages of the 41 local people who became ill, Pate said.
Marysville Pilchuck has reported that five students got sick.
While Everett had students participating in Saturday's event or there as spectators, none are known to have gotten sick.
Officials at the Edmonds School District declined to say how many members of its dance and cheerleading squads had been sickened. It's a few girls, said DJ Jakala, school district spokeswoman.
Workers at Comcast Arena spent Wednesday disinfecting all public areas, such as seats and restrooms, with a bleach solution.
Health officials advise anyone with an intestinal illness to take similar cleaning steps at home and to wash the clothing of anyone who was ill. Frequent hand-washing also helps curb spread of the disease.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com
Story tags » EverettDiseases

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