Miami-Dade High School was shut down at approximately 11am Wednesday morning after multiple students complained of fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), and abnormal fatigue, all typical symptoms related to the Zika virus.

Photo by Katy Warner (CC BY-SA 2.0)
A spokesperson for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement that said all 47 Miami-Dade students suspected to be infected with the Zika virus have been quarantined inside their homes until further testing is performed.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Jonathon Schwartz sent a letter home to parents informing them that classes are canceled for more than 400 students during the remainder of the week due to a “dramatic rise in illnesses.”

Since Monday, thirty five students showed evidence of a flavivirus infection, such as Zika, dengue or chikungunya, and a dozen more had confirmed Zika virus infections. Diagnostic tests cannot easily discern Zika from related infections, but health officials suspect nearly all of the flavivirus infections at the school to be Zika.

Health officials with the CDC believe the outbreak was most likely spread through sexual contact with students carrying the virus.

Research results released last week found that Zika may spread sexually from a man to a woman even if the man had shown no prior symptoms of the virus. It’s believed that 80-percent of people infected will never develop symptoms at all.

Miami-Dade Principle Mark Williams says the absentee rate has jumped from 15-percent to nearly 30-percent on Wednesday. That’s the highest percentage of absent students the school has seen in its history.

“We had a line up outside of the nurses office for the last three days and that’s when we started to think, we need to do something quick,” Williams said.

Williams says 115 students missed class Wednesday, a record for Miami-Dade County schools.


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