An undisclosed number of students at Lindenhurst High School fell...

An undisclosed number of students at Lindenhurst High School fell ill after a trip to Italy, the district said Monday.  Credit: Barry Sloan

School officials in Lindenhurst tried to reassure parents Tuesday that students who fell ill after a winter break trip to Italy are likely sick with the flu or a gastric illness and not the coronavirus that has become a global concern.

Officials from the Suffolk County Health Department confirmed there are no suspected cases of coronavirus. But it remained unclear what made the students sick on the flight as they returned Sunday after a week in Italy.

“The Suffolk County Health Department expressed confidence that the gastric symptoms being displayed by our students are more aligned with a diagnosis of norovirus, flu or salmonella and are not reflective of the respiratory symptoms or symptoms of pneumonia which accompany COVID-19,” Superintendent Daniel Giordano wrote in a letter to the community posted Tuesday morning on the district’s website.

He acknowledged that a rush of comments on social media sites about the students reflects ramped-up concerns among parents and students in Lindenhurst.

“We need to work together as a community to not speculate and spread rumors which will only add additional concern to the matter,” Giordano wrote.

During the winter break, 47 students from Lindenhurst High School’s Italian club traveled to Italy, visiting sites that included Venice, Pompeii, Sorrento and Sienna, district officials said.

An undisclosed number of those students fell ill on the return flight that arrived Sunday, leading some residents to post on social media about the potential cause, amid widespread concerns regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has sickened more than 79,000 people around the globe and is responsible for over 2,500 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. While most of those have been in China, a growing number of confirmed cases have surfaced in Italy.

There are 53 confirmed cases in the U.S. and no deaths. In New York State, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19. There is one suspected case currently being tested. Another 26 suspected cases have tested negative for the virus.

In Suffolk, health department officials said Tuesday they could not discuss the condition of Lindenhurst students because of privacy issues.

Giordano said the health department has urged anyone with symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever, to be seen by their doctor and tested for the flu and salmonella.

He also noted school facilities are cleaned on a daily basis with a germicidal disinfectant — a practice that started more than 10 years ago.

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