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905 students, 41 staff suffer food poisoning at Hamamatsu schools


Health and education officials in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, said Thursday that 905 students and 41 teachers and staff at 14 elementary schools suffered food poisoning on Wednesday and Thursday.

The affected people showed symptoms of food poisoning, said the local education board.

"Most of them developed such symptoms Wednesday night. They had eaten school lunch but any causal relation with the symptoms have yet to be confirmed," said Seiko Terada, director of health at the board.

"We have detected norovirus in 11 stool samples taken from some of the affected pupils," Hamamatsu city health official Toshihiko Furuta told a news conference late Thursday.

Twelve of the 14 affected schools were closed Thursday and will remain shut until at least the end of Friday.

According to the board of education, school lunches served this week might have been the source of the epidemic. Lunches are made at each school and health officials are checking to see if there were any ingredients sourced from the same supplier.

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They had eaten school lunch but any causal relation with the symptoms have yet to be confirmed,

So, all 946 of them had school lunch, but we don't want to be hasty and connect the 2? Right...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Here we go ... safe, clean high-quality Japan strikes again!

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

I've had norovirus, and I can't even begin to imagine what kind of horrid battleground an elementary school turns into when hundreds of kids come down with it at the same time.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Hardly any toilets in Japan have hot water on tap and some have no soap. Often I see men just walk out of restrooms without washing their hands. Alcohol spray is sometimes seen. More educational.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Children should drink more 'milk' instead.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Often I see men just walk out of restrooms without washing their hands.

I very often see women walk out after only wetting one hand in cold tap water for two seconds, and then wiping it with a hand towel that they've been carrying around loose in their handbag all day and reusing.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

lots of food scares lately

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Look into the kitchen of your local restaurant or ramen place and you'll soon see hygiene laws are not strictly enforced in Japan (there are always exceptions of course). The result is food poisoning cases like this, which rarely occur in other developed nations. What will it take for hygiene laws to be enforced?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

OKay, speaking from current experience as i live and teach in Hamamatsu and know a couple of people who work in affected school, the notion that this stuff only happens in Japan is naive.

Yeah, it's pretty darn obvious that it's the school lunch as it was from the same supplier. SO it's pretty clear what caused it, but not what ingredient(s) were the cause.

As for the "not washing their hands" part - This is a problem in ANY country, developed or not. People walk out toilets without washing their hands or using soap. That said, the kids themselves all wash their hands and use alcohol to clean their hands before they touch any of the food containers and start dishing out.

Over all, Japan is clean and safe, but not more or less than many other nations.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Readers, other nations are not relevant to this discussion.

@Tessa, it's pretty common to see people with towels as it's quite customary to carry your own towel/hankerchief as it's more eco friendly here. However, this is for food handlers and other people that cook and prepare the foods. There are strict rules for washing their hands. Following them and following up on it is a totally different matter though. I mean, who asks everyone when they come back from the bathroom if they washed their hands when you go to work? We just presume that they do but there is always someone...

This is probably a case of a food handler not washing their hands properly. Google norovirus for more info about what they found in the 11 student's stool samples.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

igloobuyer is correct, as a former hygiene inspector I have seen so many things go on in Japan that would not pass in UK AU based on the 1911 health act. In addition some hospitals leave me wondering what country I am in.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Michael: "There are strict rules for washing their hands. Following them and following up on it is a totally different matter though."

Exactly. It seems another case of making strict rules but not bothering, or not being able to, enforce them. I've never heard of a surprise visit from a health inspector here.

Anyway, norovirus is nasty, so I hope all these people recover quickly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

For all those blaming the hygiene conditions in Japanese schools:

Actually alcohol hand sanitizers and liquid soaps that require touching to operate are recognized as some of the biggest sources for norovirus transmission.

Norovirus is not even killed by alcohol anyway... Proper hand washing is only that much effective, given that norovirus is transmissible through air easier than by direct contact... for example through aerosolization of vomit and toilet flushing...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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