Havelock North water crisis: Two schools and retirement unit shut over gastro outbreak

Jean Sparksman, who died after contracting campylobacter. Coroner Peter Ryan will determine what effect campylobacter ...
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Jean Sparksman, who died after contracting campylobacter. Coroner Peter Ryan will determine what effect campylobacter had on her death.

Two primary schools near Havelock North have closed in a new contaminated water scare, and a unit of the Hawke's Bay retirement village where an 89-year-old woman died last week has been shut.

Haumoana School, about 15 kilometres from Havelock North, has its own bore and stepped up its testing after the outbreak that left thousands of people in the area sick.

Principal Jane Gallen said on the school's Facebook page that it had closed after receiving a positive E.coli test at 9.15am on Tuesday for a test carried out on Monday.

Haumoana School, which has its own bore, closed on Tuesday after the water tested positive for E.coli.
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Haumoana School, which has its own bore, closed on Tuesday after the water tested positive for E.coli.

It had disconnected its water supply, and made the decision to close.

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Nearby Clive School advised parents it would be closed on Wednesday "as a precaution", in light of the positive test at Haumoana.

Gallen said: "The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health were immediately contacted to provide advice and support, and our board of trustees has recommended our school be closed today whilst our water is investigated.

"Re-testing of the water is under way as this test may be a false positive, but we take the health and safety of our children and staff seriously and wish to ensure we are proactive in managing this situation."

Haumoana School would be working closely with health agencies and the Ministry of Education to ensure its drinking water supply was safe, and that it could reopened as soon as possible, Gallen said.

It planned to let parents know by 7.45am whether the school would be reopening on Wednesday.

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The unit of the Mary Doyle Lifecare village in Havelock North, where 89-year-old Jean Sparksman was a resident, has shut after a recurrence of the campylobacter outbreak.

Sparksman died on August 13 after contracting the illness in the original outbreak.

The latest occurence in her unit is believed to be a secondary case, which scientists say is not uncommon with such illnesses.

CHLORINATION CONTINUES

In other developments on Tuesday, Hastings District Council said it would begin chlorinating all water services in the district – including Hamoana's – "for the foreseeable future".

The council also said it would source Havelock North's water from Hastings' supply rather than continuing to use the Havelock North bores that were found to be contaminated.

The two supplies are linked by pipes, which have been kept closed until now.

FURTHER OUTBREAK 

Professor Michael Baker, of the University of Otago, said secondary cases of campylobacteriosis from the current outbreak were a possible cause of the infection at Mary Doyle Lifecare.

"Gastro symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, are common. There are multiple possible causes. The commonest causes of such outbreaks is norovirus," Baker said.

"Secondary cases of campylobacteriosis from the current outbreak are also possible. Such cases could be seen in those not affected in the initial outbreak. Infection and recovery from campylobacter infection should confer immunity, at least for a period and covering the infecting strain and related strains."

 

 - The Dominion Post

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