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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

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Vomiting bug likely cause of Cumbrian prom illness

A highly infectious vomiting bug is suspected to be behind an outbreak of sickness which affected more than 20 west Cumbrian pupils and teachers.

Stainburn School photo
Stainburn School prom girls

It was feared that all of those affected may have contracted food poisoning after attending Stainburn School and Science Colleges’s year 11 prom on Monday.

However, initial results of a Government investigation have cleared Hunday Manor Hotel, in Winscales, where the prom was held.

Dr Ken Lamden, consultant in communicable disease control at Cumbria & Lancashire Public Health England centre, said: “It is very likely that the illness affecting staff and children is due to norovirus.

“Those affected are recovering and the outbreak appears to have finished. The incident does not pose any risk to public health.”

He added: “Norovirus is highly infectious and usually spreads by close personal contact. It can also spread through the air or from contaminated surfaces.

“Foodborne spread is extremely uncommon and there is no evidence that the outbreak was due to food.”

Joe Wilson, managing director of Hunday Manor, said the news was a “relief”.

“If any one looks around our kitchens they are spotlessly clean, and our chefs are very good at what they do,” he added.

“We don’t know where the blame lies until we have spoken to environmental health.”

At least 15 pupils and half a dozen teachers came down with sickness and diarrhoea on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Specialists from Public Health England and environmental health officers from Allerdale council have been working to try and pinpoint the source of the problem.

Chris McGrath, Stainburn headteacher, said the common denominator for all those who were ill was the prom event.

There are about 100 pupils in year 11, although it is understood that not all attended the prom, but because the year group has left school it is difficult to assess the scale of the outbreak.

Texts have gone out to parents of those who attended.

A year 11 prom for Southfield Technology College is due to be held at Hunday Manor tonight Friday, and St Joseph’s School’s prom is due to be held there on Wednesday. Both schools said they had no concerns.



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