Mystery illness strikes 78 pupils

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AN INVESTIGATION by environmental health officers has been launched after 78 children from the same primary school were taken ill.

The children, who are pupils at Cadle Primary School in Swansea, began to suffer sickness and diarrhoea on Friday. None needed hospital treatment but doctors are trying to establish what caused the outbreak. All the youngsters are aged between five and 11.

Environmental health investigators have carried out a series of tests at the school to try to trace the cause of the sickness. Samples of food from the kitchens have been taken for analysis, although a school spokeswoman said many of the pupils who were ill did not eat school meals. Results of the tests are expected today and lessons at the 300-pupil school are continuing.

The chairwoman of the school governors, Norah Spanier, said yesterday: "It all started when a teacher called in on Friday morning saying he had been up all night with a stomach illness and couldn't make it to work. Then when we expected the usual morning influx of children there were 68 who didn't turn up. The telephone was red hot with parents ringing in to say their children had been ill all night.

"During the morning, another 10 pupils had to be sent home because they were ill and the environmental health department was called in.

"They carried out a number of tests and took a lot of samples and the school sent a letter asking parents of the affected children to keep them home for 48 hours after the symptoms wear off.

"The cause of the illness is a bit of a mystery at the moment but we have been told it's not necessarily food poisoning and it could be a virus."