UK: Winter vomiting virus caused college closure

Published Date:
09 October 2008

By Leah Strug

Source of Article:


A BUG which forced the borough's biggest school to shut has been revealed as 'winter vomiting disease'.

Harton Technology College closed for two days at the beginning of the new term after 45 staff were struck down with symptoms similar to food poisoning.

But after investigations by South Tyneside Council's environmental health team and the Health Protection Agency, it has been discovered staff at the South Shields school were suffering from the norovirus, known as the 'winter vomiting disease'.

All teachers at the Lisle Road school have recovered and there were no reports of illness among the 1,362 pupils, although the source of the bug is unknown.

Headteacher Ken Gibson said he had no option but to close the school from September 8 to September 10.

A council spokesman said: "Following investigations by the council's environmental health team and the Health Protection Agency, some of the staff who were sick at Harton Technology College, were found to have norovirus, or 'winter vomiting disease'.

"This is the most common cause of infectious stomach bugs in England and Wales. Outbreaks are common in enclosed spaces such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes and on cruise ships.

"All staff are now well and have returned to work. The initial source of the bug has not been identified."

Noroviruses are part of a group of viruses that are the most common cause of stomach bugs in the UK.

Noroviruses are also known as the 'winter vomiting disease' because people tend to get them during the winter months, but can occur at any time of the year.

It is thought the norovirus affects between 600,000 and 1 million people in the UK every year.


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