Archive for Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Hepatitis scare proves less threatening

November 14, 2001

Administrators at Basehor-Linwood High School were relieved to learn that a situation once thought to be a potential health risk, was nothing more than a case of miscommunication.

Earlier in the week, the BLHS administration had believed a senior, female student had contracted hepatitis A, a contagious viral infection of the liver.

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment told school administrators and health officials that the student actually had mononucleosis.

"The doctor said she did not have (hepatitis A)," said Cathy Barger, Basehor-Linwood School District health coordinator. "There must have been a miscommunication somewhere."

After Wednesday's announcement, there was a collective sigh of relief for BLHS administrators and health officials.

"We are certainly pleased she doesn't have it, but we took it seriously at the time," said Bill Hatfield, Basehor-Linwood High School principal.

"This is a definitely a good thing," Barger said.

Although by Wednesday the situation had been defused, administrators and health officials had a growing concern earlier in the week.

When BLHS administration believed the student had the infection, an informational letter was sent to parents informing them of the situation and urging them not to panic.

"Out of hepatitis A, B or C, this is the lesser of the three evils," Barger said.

School officials also met with several students that had been in the same activities as the student to inform them of the situation.

The infection, while highly contagious, usually results from ingesting food or drink that is contaminated with the virus. Although full recoveries are expected in cases involving hepatitis A, medical treatments are fairly limited.

The announcement that the student did not have hepatitis A, reaffirmed the administration's position that sanitation policies regarding school food and water were being followed.

"I would be pretty doubtful that it came from school food or water," Hatfield said on Monday. "Our school lunch personnel have been very well trained in washing their hands and things like that."

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