3 children hospitalised after outbreak of salmonella and stomach flu at Newton pre-school

Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse @ Newton reported that there were four cases of salmonella and 18 cases of stomach flu.
Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse @ Newton reported that there were four cases of salmonella and 18 cases of stomach flu.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Three children from a pre-school in Newton were hospitalised following an outbreak of salmonella and stomach flu among its charges aged between 18 months and six years old.

One of them was discharged on Tuesday (Dec 8), said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in a statement later in the day.

Its spokesman also said it is working with the Health Ministry on the case at Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse @ Newton.

The cause of the outbreak has yet to be determined.

Earlier in the day, a school circular to parents seen by The Straits Times, said that as of Tuesday, there were four cases of salmonella and 18 cases of stomach flu.

The cases have been reported to the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), it added. The pre-school also assured parents that the centre will be disinfected daily.

Eating food contaminated with the bacteria Salmonella Enteritidis can cause diarrhoea, fever, vomiting and abdominal cramps, commonly known as food poisoning. 

A salmonella infection can be fatal for young children, the elderly and those with impaired immune systems.

Stomach flu, on the other hand, is caused by the norovirus which inflames the stomach and intestines. Common symptoms include diarrhoea or vomiting.

A 39-year-old parent, who declined to be named, said her two children are down with food poisoning. 

Her four-year-old had a fever and started vomiting last Friday. Her two-year-old showed symptoms of fever and diarrhoea the following day.

She knows of at least 16 cases of food poisoning or stomach flu in the preschool, including her children.

"There are five children who got sick in my condominium estate, another 10 in a condominium nearby and one more who is my friend's child," added the mother-of-two who works in the financial services sector.

She further said she wished the pre-school had shown greater urgency in disclosing the outbreak.

"The first circular was sent only on Monday, a few days after my children had fallen ill. I initially thought my child’s fever and lethargy were brought about by the cold weather but it was much more serious. I would have acted sooner had I known about the outbreak," she added.

Another parent who declined to be named said his three-year-old son came down with stomach flu on Saturday.

"He had fever above 39 deg C, severe stomach pain and vomiting, so we took him to the hospital," said the 43-year-old bank executive.

He said he knows of seven children across different classes who have fallen ill.

"The school could have managed the outbreak more transparently... When I called them to understand the situation, they told me not to speak to other parents about it because they didn't want to alarm them. But I think more parents need to know about it earlier so they can protect their children," he said.

When ST was at the school on Tuesday afternoon, a woman who identified herself as its centre manager declined to comment.