Two Millstead Primary School pupils die after stomach bug outbreak but UKHSA says giardiasis 'unlikely'

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Two pupils from a Liverpool primary school have died amid an outbreak of an infectious stomach bug.

The boys, aged five and six, were students at Millstead Primary School in Everton, Merseyside, reported the Daily Mail. The school headteacher has since paid tribute to the children, saying everyone in the school was “devastated” by their deaths and the children “filled their classes with joy”.

According to the report, the primary school had been grappling with an outbreak of giardiasis - a parasitic infection causing diarrhoea, stomach cramps, flatulence, and bloating. Although typically not considered a serious health risk and treatable with antibiotics, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has indicated that the children's deaths are "unlikely" to be due to the giardia infection.

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A UKHSA spokesperson said: "UK Health Security Agency are aware of the sad deaths of two children who attend Millstead Primary School and our thoughts are with the family, friends and school community. The deaths are unlikely to be due to giardia. Giardia usually causes a self-limiting gastrointestinal illness which can spread easily in households and school settings."


Michelle Beard, headteacher of the special needs school, issued a heartfelt statement, saying, "The entire Millstead School community is devastated to have learned of the sad recent passing of two of our younger children. We have sent our sincerest condolences to both of their families. Both children filled their classes with joy during their time with us, and they will forever be in our hearts. We are working closely with our families, staff and pupils to support them as we come to terms with this terribly sad news."

The outbreak was initially reported by the Liverpool Echo last month, prompting health officials to implement preventative measures, including closing the school for a week to curb the spread of the infection. Emma Savage from the UKHSA's Cheshire and Merseyside Health Protection Team said: "Investigations are ongoing, and we have provided information and advice to the school and parents. Public health measures have been put in place to help prevent further cases."

What is Giardiasis?

According to the Government website, giardiasis can be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or humans, or by consumption of water, food or beverages contaminated by the faeces of infected animals or humans. People may also be infected by swimming in contaminated water (for example in lakes or rivers).

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Many cases are associated with foreign travel. The incubation period, the delay between infection and the appearance of symptoms, is five to 25 days.

It can be prevented by, among others, washing your hands, avoiding swallowing recreational water, avoiding drinking untreated water and being careful when dealing with animals.

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