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Update on outbreak of gastrointestinal illness, Lampeter

Friday, 30 March 2012
Investigations into an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness at a school in Lampeter have shown that norovirus is the most likely cause.
Public Health Wales and Ceredigion County Council have been investigating the outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting at Ysgol Gynradd Ffynnonbedr, which has affected 180 pupils and 16 staff since the beginning of the month.
Last week, all 368 pupils and 56 staff at the school were asked to submit samples for laboratory testing if they developed symptoms.
Ten samples have tested positive for norovirus and no samples have tested positive for any other bacterial or viral illnesses, suggesting that norovirus is the most likely cause of the outbreak.
Ceredigion County Council and Dwr Cymru have also carried out testing onsite at the school, which has shown no environmental cause for the outbreak.
The school will close from Friday 30 March for a two-week Easter holiday.
Dr Jörg Hoffmann, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “We are very grateful to staff and parents at the school who have co-operated so readily with the investigation.
“As well as issuing sample pots to children, we also issued questionnaires to gather information on where pupils had been and what they had eaten before becoming unwell, and received more than 330 responses.
“These, together with microbiological sampling and environmental sampling, have led us to believe that the cause of the outbreak is norovirus.
“We are optimistic that the outbreak is coming to an end, with very few new cases in the last two days, and we are hopeful that there will be no further cases following the Easter holidays.”
Norovirus is a virus that causes vomiting and diarrhoea and passes easily from person-to-person.  Generally patients will be fully recovered within a few days and will not need medical treatment.
Although it is difficult to prevent outbreaks in the community, spread of norovirus can be reduced by careful handwashing, washing soiled clothing and bed linen at a high temperature and disinfecting toilet surfaces.
Anyone with diarrhoea or vomiting should not return to school or work until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours.
Anyone who is concerned about their health should contact their GP or NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
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