The Ames Public Library is closed today due to illness, not the pending winter storm. City spokesperson, Sue Gwiasda says over 20 employees all called in sick today as they were experiencing headaches and vomiting. “We just realized we really didn’t have enough (employees) to adequately staff the facility, so we felt the best thing to do would be to simple close it down for today,” Gwiasda says.
She says they’re trying to determine if everyone is sick with the same thing. “It’s been a long winter and there’s a lot of people suffering from various illnesses right now. But we are looking at the possibility that there is something common occurring here,” Gwiasda says. “We don’t know if it’s just a fluke, or if there is a commonality between the staff who are sick.”
Gwiasda says the fire department is checking the building to be sure that carbon monoxide poisoning is not behind the illnesses. “The symptoms really don’t mirror all the symptoms with carbon monoxide poisoning, but we don’t want to rule anything out until we’ve checked it out,” she explains.
Gwiasda says they are taking other steps to try an prevent any further spread of illness. “As a precaution, we are wiping down all the hard surfaces. As you know — the public library is shared by many, many users — and it has been a long winter and people are in close proximity to one another. So, it is possible to share germs in facilities like this, any kind of public space,” according to Gwiasda. “We are looking at some other avenues as well. We are working with some local and state health officials to determine if their might be a link.”
She says there was a dinner some employees attended Monday, but they don’t know if that was related to the illnesses and is another possibility they are investigating. Gwiasda says they are not sure if they will have enough staff to open the library Thursday.