Killer E.coli bug closes Newcastle primary school
TEN more cases of possible E.coli are being investigated following the closure of a primary school.
They are in addition to three confirmed cases of E.coli which triggered the closure yesterday of Friarswood Primary School, in Newcastle.
Four of the new cases among children are being treated as probable, with the other six still classed as suspected.
Now all children and staff at the 153-pupil school are being tested for the bacteria over the next 24 hours.
The school is expected to be closed until at least Monday with deep cleans of classrooms, toilets, desks and chairs carried out to stop the bug spreading.
Parents called to an emergency meeting yesterday were also told to wash their children's PE kits and disinfect or throw away pencil cases and reading folders.
It has emerged the school sent a letter to parents last Friday reminding them that pupils suffering sickness or diarrhoea must be clear of symptoms for 48 hours before returning to school.
The letter also stressed the importance of children washing and drying their hands properly.
But the school today said it was not aware of any confirmed cases of E.coli when the letter was sent out.
It is understood the first case emerged last Thursday, but was not identified at that point.
This particular E.coli 0157 strain usually causes diarrhoea, but can occasionally can lead to serious, or even fatal, kidney and blood complications.
The age and gender of the children involved has not been revealed.
Health Protection Agency (HPA) consultant Dr Rob Carr said: "We are arranging for samples to be taken from children and staff at the school to determine when it is safe for them to return."
E.coli 0157 is a type of bacteria commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals.
It is thought the infection, which can be spread by contact with animals or infected meat, and also from person-to-person, was brought into the school from an outside source.
A planned trip for around 20 pupils to France next week has been cancelled.
Headteacher Lindsey Wilmer said: "Our main concern is the welfare of children, their families and our staff.
"We have also been advised that parents should avoid sending children to other daycare facilities.
"The local authority will arrange for all pupils to be tested.
"Following any positive result, local authority environmental health officers will provide further advice.
"The tests are important since some people can carry E. coli O157 without developing symptoms."
Kelly Eardley, aged 26, whose six-year-old son Declan goes to the school, said: "Declan has to be tested twice and both samples need to come back negative until he can return to class.
"The school seem to be on top of it."
Another parent said: "We've heard it spread from the infant to junior classes. Parents are very worried."