Questions To Be Answered About Elland Primary School Illness Outbreak

School Closes After ‘Dozens’ Of Pupils Are Struck By Serious Bacterial Infection

11.10.2012

The investigation into a serious illness outbreak at a school in West Yorkshire which has affected ‘dozens’ of people must identify the cause of the outbreak, consider the adequacy of steps taken to prevent its spread and provide reassurances that the same problems will not be repeated again, according to lawyers specialising in severe illness cases.

Cross Lane Primary and Nursery School in Elland has been temporarily closed for a ‘deep clean’ after a number of pupils were reportedly struck down with Shigella Sonnei, a serious bacterial infection called which can cause symptoms including bloody diarrhoea, severe headaches, nausea, fever and vomiting.

In severe cases, Shigella Sonnei can prove fatal and long term health issues can be caused including Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Shigellosis can also lead to dehydration and in rare cases, other complications, like arthritis, skin rashes, and kidney failure. Some children with severe cases of shigellosis may need to be hospitalised.

West Yorkshire Health Protection Unit is working with Environmental Health Officers and local NHS staff in Calderdale to investigate the outbreak.

Now, Irwin Mitchell’s specialist illness lawyers are calling on the authorities to ensure they investigate the circumstances surrounding the outbreak promptly and thoroughly.

The expert team has vast experience of acting for victims of illness outbreaks in the UK and abroad, and has successfully acted for many children and adults made ill with Shigella. The team has recently been in the news as they also act for around 50 victims of the major Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks seen in Edinburgh and Stoke-on-Trent earlier this year.

Suki Chhokar, a Partner and expert in illness cases at the national law firm, said: “Through our work, we have seen first-hand how serious illnesses including Shigella Sonnei can have long-term health impacts on victims of all ages, particularly children.

“The fundamental priority for authorities at this stage should be to make the school safe. This involves stopping the spread of the infection, identifying its source and ensuring that this kind of outbreak is avoided in future. Shigella infection can be spread by routes including consumption of contaminated food or water or through person to person contact and the method by which pupils at the school were infected needs to be identified as a priority.

“In the longer term, it will also be important for the actions of the school in relation to this outbreak to be reviewed and assessed, to consider if anything further could have been done to tackle the problems and prevent the spread.”