Pupils pick up E. coli

19:16, Apr 09 2014
e. coli
Individual bacteria in this photograph are oblong and colored brown.

Two Timaru pupils have contracted infections from the bacteria E. coli following school trips, with raw milk being a possible cause.

South Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Daniel Williams confirmed the South Canterbury District Health Board has been notified of two cases of E. coli involving Waimataitai School pupils who went on a variety of school visits, including to farms, last week.

"All the children that have been sick have drunk raw milk, but it has not been confirmed what caused the illnesses yet," Williams said.

The pupils did not visit the Timaru farm of Stuart and Andrea Weir, which has been at the centre of an ongoing campylobacter investigation.

Waimataitai principal Jane Culhane said pupils from five classes visited seven or eight farms last week as part of their Our Place and Space unit.

She said the cause had not yet been established for the two cases, but the school had alerted parents to the symptoms and what to look out for.


"We always act responsibly, and tell parents anything we feel they need to know," she said.

Williams said it was a timely reminder that when townspeople visited farm environments they needed to be vigilant about washing hands after visiting, and avoid drinking raw milk.

The symptoms of E. coli infection include bloody diarrhoea, urinary tract or other infections, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

The Timaru Herald