Vomiting bug outbreak hits special school
By RORY REYNOLDS
MORE than 60 staff and pupils at a Lothians school have been taken ill after a major outbreak of the winter vomiting bug.
It has emerged that 33 out the 100 pupils at Saltersgate Special Needs School were left with severe vomiting and diarrhoea after a strain of the norovirus began to spread.
A further 30 members of staff at the school have also been affected by noroADVERTISEMENT
virus, known as the winter vomiting bug, over the past three weeks.
NHS Lothian was called in to access the situation, and it decided that the school and its swimming pool, which it shares with Dalkeith High School and St David's RC High School on the Midlothian "super campus", could remain open.One teacher, who asked not to be named, told the Evening News that they believe the school should have been closed.
The teacher added that many pupils had recovered, only to return to school and be struck down again.
The teacher said: "I don't know how it didn't spread to the other two schools.
"We have pupils from the high schools coming in every day to help out and they were around pupils who were ill.
"I heard one of the pupils caught it three times.
"We've been having to take them to the toilet when they've been ill, and some of them have been having accidents in the pool.
"I can't believe the pool hasn't been closed.
The outbreak started earlier this month, and in a letter to parents headteacher Jean Loughlin said that an increasing number of pupils and staff had come down with the virus, adding that they should keep their children at home for 48 hours if they had the symptoms.
Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy, NHS Lothian, said: "A risk assessment was carried out and it was decided that pupils who were well enough to attend school could continue to have therapy sessions in the swimming pool because of the health benefits."
"The number of pupils affected has significantly reduced to the level one might normally find in a school environment.
"We have not received any reports of other children on the campus being unwell."
A Midlothian council spokesperson confirmed 33 pupils and 30 staff members had been affected, but said none are currently off due to the virus.
They added: "Advice from the public health officials was that a deep cleanse of the school should take place when all occurrences have ceased and this will take place on October 2 and 3."
SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR
THE Norovirus group is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the UK.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and in some cases a fever, headache, stomach cramps and aching limbs.
There is no treatment for a norovirus infection. The NHS recommends sufferers stay at home, take paracetamol and eat foods that are easy to digest, such as soup, rice, pasta and bread.