More than a dozen cases of mono reported at White Hall schools

WHITE HALL – The Arkansas Department of Health has confirmed more than a dozen cases of mononucleosis at the elementary through high school campuses of the White Hall School District, Superintendent Larry Smith acknowledged Wednesday in a notice sent to parents of district students.

The health department “stated that basically ‘the virus just has to run its course’ and that ‘a student should not be sent to school with a temperature of 100.5 or higher’,” Smith wrote in the notice to parents.

Health officials were quoted as saying the best course of prevention was for students not to share eating or drinking utensils and to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, Smith added, noting department officials said “the most common transfer of the virus from one person to another was by coughing.”

Parents were asked to encourage students to practice healthy habits, including “frequent hand-washing, coughing in your sleeve and no sharing drinking or eating utensils.”

While classes will follow normal schedules Thursday, no classes will be held Friday so teachers can attend the Arkansas Education Association’s fall conference in Little Rock. The latter has been on the district schedule for months.

As a precaution, district employees will disinfect classrooms and other school facilities on Friday, Smith told The Commercial.

Mononucleosis, also known as “mono” and the “kissing disease,” is a viral infection that causes fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands, especially in the neck, health officials said.

Often spread by saliva and close contact, it is known as the “kissing disease” because it occurs most often in those age 15 to 17, the officials added. However, the infection may develop at any age.

Symptoms of mononucleosis include: Fever; drowsiness; general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling; loss of appetite; muscle aches or stiffness; swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck and armpit; rash; and sore throat.