AN outbreak of an infectious stomach bug at a city school is being investigated after scores of pupils were struck down.
At the peak of the virus last week, 72 pupils and two teachers were absent from Blackhall Primary.
Symptoms include a high temperature, sickness, diarrhoea and feeling lethargic, and the council is urging parents whose children are affected to keep them off school.
The school, which has a total of 400 pupils, became aware of the bug last Monday and contacted parents to advise them what to do if their children were showing any symptoms.
A deep clean lasting more than six hours was carried out the following day, with a second one following over the weekend.
One mother whose seven-year-old daughter was struck down by the virus for four days, but who didn’t want to be named, said: “She had a really high temperature and she was sick a few times.
“The kids I know who have had it have been feeling really lethargic – it’s almost like a sleeping bug – and they’re left with a cold.
“The school sent out an email to let parents know about the bug. It said that 25 per cent of primary one pupils were off at one point, and ten per cent of the rest of the school.”
The parents’ evenings planned for last week were cancelled, as were the primary four pupils’ local swimming lessons, to help stop the virus from spreading.
SNP councillor for Inverleith, Stuart Roy McIvor, said: “I’m glad that it seems to be improving but the essential thing is to get to the bottom of what actually caused it. We need to know and I will be asking the education officials to look into that to see what it is.”
Council head of schools, Mike Rosendale, added: “A sickness bug has recently affected pupils at Blackhall Primary and we responded quickly to minimise the risk of it spreading further. We are acting on the advice of the NHS and have carried out a number of deep cleans to prevent further infection.
“We are also working hard to keep parents informed of the situation and asking them to keep their children off school for at least 48 hours if they have displayed any symptoms.”
Dr Duncan McCormick, consultant in public health at NHS Lothian, said the health protection team was investigating the outbreak.
“We have advised that anyone attending the school who is displaying symptoms should stay off and not return for 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped,” he said.
“Our health protection nurses have provided advice and guidance to ensure the best possible precautions are put in place to minimise the risk of further transmission.
“We are reviewing the situation on a daily basis and expect the forthcoming Easter holidays will put an end to this outbreak.”
WIPING OUT VIRUSES
A SPECIAL clean, or a deep clean, involves specially trained staff using cleaning products containing anti-viral components.
All contact surfaces, from tables and chairs to handles and light switches, are thoroughly cleaned. There is a particular focus on the toilet area, with floors and walls also cleaned.
The anti-viral components are designed to destroy all common bugs and viruses, making the deep clean more thorough than a regular clean.
A special clean often takes several hours, depending on the size of the building, with the initial deep clean at Blackhall taking more than six hours.