A school in Newhaven is closed today (Thursday December 20) and will remain closed tomorrow (Friday December 21) due to an outbreak of winter vomiting bug.
The Health Protection Agency expressed concern about the spread of the norovirus, with Tideway School in Southdown Road as the site of infection.
Head teacher Rob Corbett said he was concerned that pupils could pass the illness on to elderly relatives over Christmas, who are particularly at risk from the resulting dehydration.
In a message to parents and carers on the school’s website Mr Corbett said: “Having reviewed the numbers of students who are suffering from the norovirus sickness bug and the rate of increase of these numbers I have decided to close the school to students on Thursday and Friday.
“I am very concerned that the spread of the disease close to Christmas will result in relatives of those in school being infected particularly the elderly for whom the implications could be serious.
“We have had several cases of re-infection today (Wednesday) which has been the final element in my decision.
“We have tried hard over the last three days to ensure normal running despite high staff absence but the risk to the public health has become too great.
“I hope the many students who are suffering are able to recover quickly and that you and your families have a very happy Christmas.”
The norovirus is highly resistant and can survive on almost any surface, such as doorknobs or kitchen work tops.
However the school said the virus would die off during the Christmas holidays.
The bugis highly contagious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
There is no cure, so sufferers have to let it run its course, but it should not last more than a couple of days.
While the virus is not dangerous, the resulting dehydration is more of a risk in the very young and the elderly.
The NHS said it was important to get medical attention straight away if you think your child is becoming dehydrated.
In extreme cases severe dehydration can lead to kidney failure and low blood pressure, even death.
The NHS advises patients to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and wash hands frequently to help prevent it from spreading.
It also tells people not share towels and flannels and disinfect any surfaces that an infected person has touched.
Between 600,000 and one million people in the UK catch norovirus every year.
Outbreaks in busy places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools are common because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person.
The NHS says if you have norovirus, the following steps should help ease your symptoms:
•Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
•Take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains.
•If you feel like eating, eat foods that are easy to digest.
•Stay at home and don’t go to the doctor, because norovirus is contagious and there is nothing the doctor can do while you have it.
•However, contact your GP to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness.
Extra care should be taken to prevent babies and small children who are vomiting or have diarrhoea from dehydrating, by giving them plenty of fluids. Babies and young children can still drink milk.
The virus is easily spread by contact with an infected person, especially through their hands. You can also catch it through contaminated food or drink or by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.
To find out more visit http://www.nhs.uk