AN OUTBREAK of norovirus has hit 60 schools with some forced to close their doors, it’s reported.
Health officials were called in after hundreds of children were off sick across the North East of England this week.
Local authorities are working with Public Health England’s health protection team due to the high number of absences of both staff and pupils.
Three schools in County Durham have had to shut for a deep clean to prevent the spread of infection, reports Chronicle Live.
Burnopfield Primary School and Newton Hall Infants’ School remain closed today while Durham Blue Coat C of E (Aided) Junior School opened its doors today after a 48-hour clean up.
Dr Gayle Dolan, consultant in health protection for PHE NE, said: “Around 60 schools across the region are reporting absences due to symptoms of likely viral illness including influenza (flu) and norovirus.
“We expect viral illnesses of this kind to circulate in schools and the community at this time of year and we have been providing advice to parents and schools to help reduce the spread of infection.
What are the symptoms of Norovirus?
You are likely to have caught Norovirus if you experience a sudden sick feeling, projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea.
Other symptoms can include a slight fever, headaches, painful cramps and aching limbs.
Luckily, the symptoms generally only last for about two to three days.
If you think you have contracted it contact NHS direct but stay at home, as you won’t be offered any treatment in hospital and you could put others at risk by being there.
The symptoms don’t last long, and you’ll normally feel healthy again after a few days.
However, you’re actually contagious for up to three days after you’ve recovered – and some people may even be contagious for two weeks.
“Flu can be extremely unpleasant for young children but for most healthy people it is a self-limiting illness.
“Some people including older people, those with long-term medical conditions or weakened immune systems can be more at risk of developing complications and should seek prompt medical assessment if they develop symptoms of flu.”
A third of children at the 450-pupil Holystone Primary School, in North Tyneside, were off sick on Tuesday.
While St Mary’s RC Voluntary Aided Primary School in Jarrow told kids to stay home last week as a deep clean was carried out.
Kells Lane Primary School in Gateshead also called in health officials after reports of a large number of sick children.
Jarrow School and Jarrow Cross C of E Primary School were also closed on Tuesday so a deep clean could take place.
How to protect your kids from flu
FLU strikes millions of kids each year and it is almost impossible to avoid completely.
Dr Jarvis advises parents ensure they take their kids to get the free NHS flu vaccine, as soon as possible.
And in the meantime, she said there are hygiene steps we can all take to avoid the virus.
She told The Sun Online: “Encouraging everyone around you who sneezes to use paper tissues, which they dispose of immediately in a bin (and then wash their hands) will help.
“All children from two years old to the end of primary school are now eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine.
“Kids are ‘super spreaders’ of flu – they pass it on far more efficiently than adults.
“And they’re far more prone to serious complications than healthy adults.
“The vaccine is given as a nasal spray rather than an injection in children – via your GP surgery or through their school if they’re at primary school.
“It really is the most effective way to protect them against flu.”
Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead at Treated.com, also advises making sure your child is having a healthy diet.
He adds: “So with more dangers around in the air we breathe, it’s best to keep yours and your kids’ immune systems fighting fit.
“This means eating a healthy and balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and veg, and making sure you’re getting enough sleep.”
Earlier this month, we reported that a delay to the flu vaccine could put kids at risk.
Health chiefs have blamed the shortage of vaccines on the manufacturer, AstraZeneca.
And they warned up to one million kids could be left unprotected – after a quarter of the vaccines were held back by testing problems.
Children who have underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to flu will be prioritised by GPs first
Dr Mary Ramsay
As a result Public Health England has told schools to cancel vaccination sessions.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said they are working to ensure kids get the vaccine as soon as possible.
“We are working with AstraZeneca and NHS England and Improvement to ensure that all eligible children get their flu vaccine as soon as possible,” she said.
“Children who have underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to flu will be prioritised by GPs first.”
Officials said they hope the problem will be resolved by the end of December, before the flu season reaches it’s height.
It comes as dozens of people have been suffering with Norovirus–like symptoms after attending a huge Lego event in Bristol at the weekend.
The organisers of the Bristol Brick show say they are ‘devastated’ and an investigation has been launched by the city’s health authorities.