Pupils to be screened after liver virus alert

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Children at a Fylde coast school are to be vaccinated against an infectious illness after a person associated with the school was diagnosed with Hepatitis B.

Pupils and staff at Red Rose School, an independent facility for children with specific learning difficulties, based in St Annes, have been approached by Public Health England, which has offered screening and vaccination against the 

School bosses today said the first they knew of the infected individual, who has not been identified, was via the letter from Public Health England.

Public Health England said it is “investigating a case of Hepitatis B Virus (HBV) infection in an individual associated with Red Rose School.”

Dr Sionah Lannen, headteacher at the school on North Promenade, St Annes, said: “There’s nobody panicking. I think it’s very positive [we’re being offered screening and vaccinations], it’s a precautionary measure and obviously the chances are very slim.

“All we’ve been told is it’s somebody associated with the school. From what we can gather it’s very tenuous.”

From Monday, children and staff at the school can be screened, in the form of a finger prick blood sample, and then vaccinated.

Kate Brierley, nurse consultant in health protection at Public Health England’s Cumbria and Lancashire centre, said: “We understand that it is worrying to hear that pupils may have been in contact with someone with Hepatitis B. However, they should be reassured that the risk to others is considered to be small.

“It is not possible to say at this stage how the individual may have acquired the infection, but we are looking into it very carefully and have ensured that appropriate infection control measures are in place to prevent any further spread of infection.”

Dr Lannen said response to the medical offer was positive from parents.

The headteacher said there was no call for change regarding routine or hygiene in the school.

She said: “We have risk assessments for all sorts of things but nothing has changed at all.”

The school has 33 pupils, aged between eight and 16, who travel in from all over Lancashire.

Hepatitis B is an infectious inflammatory illness of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus.

The virus is transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids.

Other risk factors include working in a healthcare setting, transfusions, dialysis, acupuncture, tattooing, sharing razors or toothbrushes with an infected person, travel in countries where it is endemic, and residence in an institution.

An estimated 35m people worldwide are infected with the illness.

The acute illness causes liver inflammation, vomiting, jaundice, and, rarely, death. But most adults do not require treatment for the infection.

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