UK: Hepatitis A outbreak at Solihull primary school

Source of Article:  http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2009/04/27/hepatitis-a-outbreak-at-solihull-primary-school-97319-23483838/

 

FOUR children from a primary school in Solihull have been diagnosed with hepatitis A, it was revealed today.

The four cases at St Alphege Church of England Infant School in New Road, Solihull, were confirmed by the Health Protection Agency, which is now advising the school on control measures.

Parents of children at the school have been informed and all staff and pupils are being offered vaccination as a precautionary measure.

Although hepatitis A does occur in the UK, it is more common in countries where sanitation and sewage disposal can be poor, particularly Africa, northern and southern Asia, and Central America.

One parent said: “This is a Third World virus spread by poor hygiene, not something you would expect in our schools.”

The parent, who did not want to be named, claimed that the first case among the Year 2 pupils was in February, but claimed parents had not been notified until the other children had gone to hospital with the virus.

“The two-month delay in acting has potentially put 250 families at risk. Many would have been away over the Easter break mixing with other children.”

Calls to the school were referred to the Health Protection Agency, which is working with Solihull Care Trust and Solihull Council in trying to control the outbreak.

The original source of the infection is not known, but the Agency said it remained vigilant to any other cases arising.

Dr Roger Gajraj, consultant for the HPA in the West Midlands, said: “Although outbreaks still occur, hepatitis A infection has become less common in the UK nowadays with a high proportion of cases acquired during overseas travel. Symptoms tend to be quite mild in children but more serious in adults.”

They include pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite and nausea and vomiting through to more severe symptoms such as liver inflammation or jaundice (yellow-looking skin) and in very rare cases, liver failure.

Dr Gajraj said hepatitis A is easily prevented by good hygiene, particularly after using the toilet, and by washing hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, especially before preparing food or eating.

 

 

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