Fayette County

Lexington health department pushes hand washing to ward off stomach illness

Lexington residents were urged Monday to emphasize hand washing to fight gastrointestinal illnesses spreading in the community.

The Fayette County Health Department said it has received reports of a stomach virus. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches and headache, according to a health department news release. Children have been more likely to experience diarrhea, and adults more commonly have vomiting.

About 120 students and staff members were absent Friday from Lansdowne Elementary School because of an illness that surfaced suddenly Thursday. About 100 students were out of school Thursday. Those affected complained of stomach problems.

The health department said parents should remind children to wash their hands frequently, particularly after using the toilet.

"Hand sanitizers aren't enough in fighting this illness, so using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is recommended," said Kevin Hall, spokesman for the health department.

A bleach-based household cleaner should be used to decontaminate surfaces at home where a resident has caught the bug, health officials said.