School e-coli outbreak
Two schools have been closed after an outbreak of E-coli struck down 41 people, mostly children, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said today.
A total of 39 cases - including 37 children - linked to Hayes Primary School, in Bromley, south London, have been confirmed as the potentially-fatal E.coli O157 strain and there are a further two suspected cases.
Two cases - both children - linked to Parklands Nursery, Bromley, have also been confirmed.
One of the nursery victims is a "close family contact" of a pupil at the primary school, the HPA said.
A spokeswoman added that they were attempting to trace the source of the illness.
Hayes Primary School was closed on June 30 and Parklands Nursery closed voluntarily last Wednesday.
Dr Rachel Heathcock, South East London Health Protection Unit Director, said: "Unfortunately, with E.coli O157 there is always a risk of transmission to family members, and we have advised the siblings of all known cases to stay at home from schools, nurseries and playgroups.
"We will continue to work closely with Hayes Primary School, Parklands Nursery and Bromley Council's environmental health department to try and identify the source of these infections.
"In the meantime, control measures including closing the school and nursery while they are cleaned reduce the possibility of person-to-person transmission."
Dr Heathcock added: "E.coli can spread easily. By taking some simple precautions people can help reduce the risk of catching the infection.
"Careful and thorough hand washing with soap, especially before eating, after using the toilet and before and after handling food, is one of the most effective methods."
Symptoms, which may only last a few days, include feeling sick, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhoea and fever.
For the very young, old or those already unwell the illness may be more severe and complications such as renal failure can occur.
Response to school e-coli outbreak
A London Borough of Bromley spokesman said: "The council's Environmental Health Team is working closely with the Health Protection Agency's investigation.
"Our priority is to protect pupils, staff and the wider school family, while minimising disruption to school activities.
"The council will continue to advise and support the school through the ongoing investigation."
He added that information had been send to local GPs, hospital A&E departments and headteachers to inform them of the outbreak.
For more information about E.coli, contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.
The outbreak comes after 24 people were struck down with the bug in Leeds. A five-year-old girl and an 82-year-old woman were among those affected by the potentially-fatal E.coli O157 strain, centred on a butcher's shop in the city.
Sallie Booth, expert public health solicitor of Irwin Mitchell, commented, "A school is a very worrying source of e-coli outbreak. Children are especially vulnerable to suffering very serious health effects. People affected by e-coli should seek legal advice immediately and if the source of contamination can be traced, it will be possible to claim compensation for injuries suffered."
Do you have a claim? If you or someone you know has been affected by e coli as a result of negligence, seek free legal advice immediately. Visit our E coli claim page for more information.