Alert at South Shields primary school after pupil diagnosed with infectious virus
Letters have been sent out by Mortimer Primary School after the health protection team at Public Health England was notified of the youngster’s hepatitis A diagnosis.
Officers have since been working with the school in Mortimer Road to agree an action plan.
Moves are being taken to offer all children and staff in Years 1 and 2 a hepatitis A vaccine in a bid to contain the infection.
The illness is a viral infection which affects the liver and is sometimes referred to as infectious hepatitis or yellow jaundice.
The infection can be passed on despite the carrier showing no symptoms. It is understood pupils not in Year 1 or Year 2 do not need to be immunised at this stage.
In a letter sent home to parents, by headtacher Geoff Seagrove, wrote: “I am writing to let you know that over the Easter holidays a child at Mortimer Primary School has been diagnosed with hepatitis A infection. “The Health Protection Team at Public Health England (PHS) has been working closely with the school to agree what actions are needed.
“Hepatitis A is a viral infection which affects the liver. It is sometimes known as infectious Hepatitis or yellow jaundice. Many younger children who have Hepatitis A do not have any symptioms but can pass the infection to others.
“As a precautionary measure all children and staff in Years 1 and 2 are being offered hepatitis A vaccine to help prevent further spread of the infection.
“The parents of these children and members of staff will receive more information about the immunisation session in a separate leaflet.
“Pupils who are not in Year 1 or Year 2 do not need to be immunised at this stage.
“All children should wash their hands regularly at school and at home especially after going to the toilet and before eating.
“Further information about hepatitis A is available in the enclosed factsheet and at www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis-a/Pages/Introduction.aspx
“Should you have any further concerns or further questions about the information in this letter please contact the Health Protection Team at PHE on 0300 303 3596 option 1.”
A spokeswoman for the North East’s health protection team said they and public health staff at South Tyneside Council are aware of a case of hepatitis A associated with a school in the borough.
Investigations are currently on-going and all close contacts have been identified, including pupils and members of staff, who will be offered a vaccine as a precautionary measure.
It is not anticipated that anyone else other than these contacts needs to be vaccinated at this stage.
Dr Gayle Dolan, consultant in health protection, said: “Hepatitis A is a viral infection which affects the liver. It is usually a short-term illness and symptoms can include a raised temperature, nausea, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and jaundice (yellow colour of the skin and eyes).
“Although the symptoms can be unpleasant, it is rarely serious and some people, especially younger children, may have no symptoms at all.”
No-one was available to comment from school.