TAMPA, Fla. -- It's been a sickening situation the past couple of weeks at two schools in Hillsborough County.
A virus at one. A bacterial infection at the other.
Well over 100 students have been sent home.
“Five classmates are out of my class,” said 8-year-old Donovan Campbell.
Campbell, a student at Lowry Elementary School in Town 'N Country, can tell you first-hand that it’s literally been sickening.
“People have been throwing up,” said Campbell. “I'm fine. I haven't gotten a virus, and I hope I don't get the virus.”
By the Hillsborough school board's own estimate, at least 140 students at Lowry have been sidelined by Norovirus.
Norovirus is the same highly-contagious bio-bug known for crippling cruise ships. And since Thursday, it's only continued to get worse.
On Wednesday night, every inch of the school got a thorough wipe down.
“They describe it is a deep clean,” said Hillsborough School District Spokesperson Tanya Arja, “And we're going to just kind of see what goes on today at the schools. Tomorrow as well, and then look at what else we might need to do.”
School officials were asking parents whose kids caught the virus to keep them out of school for an additional 48 hours even after the symptoms go away just to be safe.
They’re also promising to work with families to help the kids make up any classwork or tests they might have missed.
Meanwhile, at Plant High School in South Tampa, there has now been a third confirmed case of pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
“It can be a severe illness, especially in young children,” said Mark Wiese with the Hillsborough County Health Department.
Wiese says most students have been vaccinated against whooping cough, with about 8% in Hillsborough Schools having a medical or religious exemption from required immunizations.
But alarmingly, in all three confirmed cases at Plant, the students had been immunized.
“I think when it becomes a problem in the school is when kids actually get whooping cough and I bring it to school and there's multiple cases of it,” said Olivia Bucklew, a student at Plant.
“We're working very closely with the school to identify those individuals that may be at an increased risk for developing the illness,” said Wiese.
Wiese says by now, anyone who they believe to be at elevated risk would likely have been alerted by the school.
Parents can find out from the district or health department the percentage of students at their child's school who are not immunized.
In both of these recent cases, the schools have called, texted and sent home health alerts.
Health officials say Norovirus takes about three days to run its course.
Whooping cough can last several days longer, but officials say it is treatable with common antibiotics.
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