UNION COUNTY, NJ – The superintendent of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood School District announced that a high number of high school students have been reporting nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and intestinal cramping.

The viral symptoms did not appear, however, to have spread in any wide fashion to children in neighboring Westfield, school and health department officials there said Friday.

Scotch Plains Superintendent Margaret W. Hayes told parents in a letter that 12 percent of students at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School were absent on Thursday. On a typical day only 4 percent of students would be absent, Hayes said. The school has about 1,500 students enrolled, records show.

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“Our school nurses at the high school have advised that several other area high schools are reporting the same symptoms in their population,” Hayes said in the statement. “There is no evidence to support that the French exchange students were the original source of this outbreak.”

In Westfield, the symptoms did not appear to have impacted the district, school officials there said.

“There are always various illnesses in the community. But there are no alarmingly high numbers of students with illnesses at this point in time,” the district said in a statement sent to TAPinto.

Megan Avallone, health officer for the Westfield Regional Health Department, the service area for which includes Fanwood, deferred to Scotch Plains schools for specifics on that incident. There were no similar reports from Westfield, Avallone said.

That does not mean, however, that the public shouldn't take basic precautions:

The Scotch Plains district offered the following tips for controlling the spread of any virus:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water. If soap and water are not available use hand sanitizer. Doing this after using the bathroom goes without saying.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • Keep cell phones, etc. off of potentially contaminated surfaces.
  • Don’t share eating utensils, cups, etc.
  • Do not touch or prepare food for others while you are sik.
  • Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables before consumption.

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh