Two children, 5 and 6, dead at school dealing with intestine infection outbreak

Millstead Primary School children and staff have been left ‘devastated’ by the news (Picture: Google Maps)

Two children aged just five and six who attended the same primary school in Liverpool have died amid an outbreak of an intestinal infection.

The headteacher of Millstead Primary School, in the suburb of Everton, confirmed that the pair of pupils who ‘filled their classes with joy’ had died.

The Liverpool ECHO understands the children who died were aged five and six.

The school is dealing with an outbreak of giardiasis, with public health officials saying it is ‘unlikely’ the students died due to it.

Giardiasis, also called giardia, is an intestinal infection caused by a single-celled parasite.

The parasite is spread by contaminated water – such as swallowing water from streams, lakes or puddles – or contact with an infected person.

What are the symptoms of giardiasis?

Giardiasis (pronounced jee-AR-dee-ya) is a common illness caused by a parasite.

The infection usually lasts about a week but can last a little longer.

The parasite is usually found swimming in unsanitary and unsafe water.

According to the NHS and health experts, the main symptoms of giardiasis are:

smelly diarrhoea
tummy pain or cramps
farting (flatulence)
smelly burps – they may smell like eggs
weight loss

People are most infections when their symptoms start until two days after. They should only return to school or work after symptoms have stopped for two days.

Millstead headteacher Michelle Beard, said: ‘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.’

While hard to diagnose, giardiasis doesn’t pose much of a risk and is easily treated with antibiotics.

The number of giardia reports increased year on year from 2013 to at least 2017, according to the most recent UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data.

Public health officials attribute the rise to better diagnostic tools, with nearly 4,800 confirmed cases in England and Wales in 2017.

To help prevent the spread of the illness, people are advised to wash their hands with soap regularly and clean toilets, taps and doors.

People with giardiasis should separate clothing and bedding that may be contaminated and pop it on a hot wash. They should not prepare food for others, share towels, or use swimming pools.

Travellers and hikers are also advised to assume water sources are contained and should either purify drinking water or drink bottled water.

A spokesperson for the UKHSA 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.’

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