4000 children sick: norovirus in school lunches?

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Did the virus come with the school food delivered? Around 4,000 children suffer from gastrointestinal disorders in four federal states

After thousands of children in four eastern German states are believed to have contracted the norovirus, numerous schools and daycare centers remain closed. The kindergarten and school children suffer from abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea, as the health authorities said. The cause is still unclear, the authorities suspect that the school lunches supplied may have been virally contaminated.

Was the school lunch delivered to blame? The health offices of the federal states are now investigating this question after several thousand students suffer from gastrointestinal diseases. The reason could be that all the schools and kindergartens concerned received lunch from the same supplier.

Three children admitted to hospital It is still unclear how many children are ill, according to the authorities, there may be a few thousand. Three students showed such severe stomach problems that they had to be admitted to a clinic, as the Berlin Senate Department for Health and Social Affairs announced on Thursday with reference to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). All other children are cared for on an outpatient basis by pediatricians.

The trigger could be a norovirus infection. The aggressive norovirus is thought to be the trigger. As a result, patients suffer from violent vomiting diarrhea and nausea. With a stable immune system, the infectious disease healed without consequences after about three days. However, the disease can become dangerous in weakened people because the body loses a lot of fluid as a result of the defensive fight. Sufficient hydration should therefore be ensured to avoid internal dehydration.

Some schools already closed According to the current state of knowledge, all affected schools and daycare centers were supplied by the same food manufacturer. "It is headquartered in Rüsselsheim and operates regional locations in many bundle countries," said Ulrich Widders of the Brandenburg Department of Health and Consumer Protection in the Ministry of Health to the television program "Abendschau" of the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandburg (RBB). Due to the intensity of the occurrence, some schools in Brandenburg and Berlin were closed at least until the weekend in order to avoid further spread.

Closing the plant is currently out of the question. "We see no reason to close the company," said a spokeswoman for the Thuringian supervisory authorities. In the past, the food producer had never had any hygiene problems. The district veterinary office has ordered additional cleaning measures and disinfection of the presumably affected manufacturing company as a precaution. The company currently has no opinion.

First patient cases on Tuesday "The first complaints occurred on Tuesday evening", as reported by the Ministry of Social Affairs of Saxony. Here, too, the officials assume that it is noroviruses that are the cause. To date, patient cases have been reported in Thuringia, Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony.

The Robert Koch Institute in Berlin assumes a number of around 4,000 children, educators and teachers. Other media reports assume that around 2500 people are infected. In Brandenburg alone, over 1,100 people were reported to the Ministry of Health. In the state of Saxony, around 600 children with symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting had been registered since the beginning of the week. The Berlin Senate Administration said, "400 cases have occurred in five boroughs." In this context, the district office in Saalfeld-Rudolstadt speaks of 340 patients in Thuringia.

First laboratory results expected in the afternoon It has not yet been proven how the outbreak could have happened. It is also unclear whether the Noro virus was actually the cause. The RKI did not want to confirm information that it is the Noro virus. The health and food authorities are currently feverishly searching for the pathogen and trigger. The responsible health authorities, ministries of the federal states and authorities work together. Because the scope of the wave of infections is very pronounced, the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety has joined in alongside the RKI. The four federal states involved want to discuss concrete measures with the federal institutes and authorities today, as spokeswoman for the Berlin health administration, Regina Kneiding, announced on request. The first analysis results of the laboratory tests are expected later today.

The Brandenburg director of the health department said: "We looked at the caterer's regional kitchens, certain foods are no longer allowed to be served". And the State Secretary Emine Demirbüken-Wegner (CDU) told the Berliner Abendschau: "With the help of a coordination center in the Berlin Senate for Health, further steps will be discussed". All hospitals have been informed as a precaution. (sb)

Image: Public Address Presseagentur / pixelio.de

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