Virus Blamed For Widespread School Absences In Pender County

More than 200 Pender County elementary students stayed home from school yesterday as officials tried to determine the cause of a contagious outbreak.

Health officials initially blamed it on norovirus, but now say that it's more likely a combination of several illnesses.

Health officials also say it's doubtful that the illness came from food.

About 185 students at South Topsail Elementary School were absent Monday, and 200 students out of 717 stayed home Tuesday. Wednesday was scheduled as a half-day, and 235 students were absent.

Health officials urged siblings of sick students who attend other schools to wash their hands frequently and take extra precautions.