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Marysville cheerleaders fall ill after competition in Everett

MARYSVILLE — Five Marysville-Pilchuck High School cheerleaders were among those who reportedly fell ill with vomiting and diarrhea after attending a cheerleading competition in Everett on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Jodi Runyon of the Marysville School District confirmed that five students on the 15-member M-PHS cheerleading team were among the 19 cheer squads, out of the 45 squads that participated in the competition at Everett's Comcast Arena, whose onset of symptoms reportedly began on Sunday, Feb. 5, and Monday, Feb. 6.

Runyon has no further information at this time, and the cause and source of the illnesses, as well as the total number of people sickened, remain unknown.

Arlington Cheer Advisor Brooke Dalgaard reported that none of her cheerleaders have experienced the flu-like symptoms exhibited by the Marysville cheerleaders, while Lakewood High School Principal Dale Leach is not aware of any Lakewood cheerleaders either attending the event or suffering any symptoms.

The Washington State Department of Health is working closely with the Snohomish Health District on the investigation, as well as with local health agencies and school districts across the state. According to Suzanne Pate of the Snohomish Health District, students from Pierce, Kitsap and Grant counties have reported becoming ill as well.

Thousands of people attended the event, and teams and supporters from around the state participated. According the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which staged the event, more than 3,000 people attended, and more than 1,000 competed in the State Cheerleading and Salute to Spirit in cheer and dance/drill.

State health officials described the investigation as being in its early stages, and will be sending a questionnaire to event participants, as well as collecting samples for testing at the state Public Health Laboratories. Those officials advise those who attended the event and have severe symptoms to contact a health care provider.

Intestinal illnesses can be caused by several viruses and bacteria, and can come from a wide variety of sources. Symptoms typically include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and can also include headaches, stomach cramps and fever. As with many illnesses, good personal hygiene such as frequent hand washing can help prevent the spread of such diseases.

The state Department of Health website at www.doh.wa.gov offers further information.

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