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Two children die amid infectious virus outbreak at Merseyside primary school

Two children have died amid an infectious virus outbreak at an elementary school.

The pair, believed to be aged five and six, were pupils at Millstead School in Everton, Merseyside.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) North West has been working with Liverpool City Council and its partners following a number of cases of giardiasis linked to the school.

Giardiasis is an infection of the digestive system caused by tiny parasites known as giardia lamblia.

The infection can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, flatulence and bloating, but generally does not pose a serious health risk and can be easily treated with antibiotics.

Emma Savage, Health Protection Consultant for the Cheshire and Merseyside Health Protection Team, said: “UKHSA is aware of the sad deaths of two children attending Millstead Primary School and our thoughts are with the family, friends and school community.

“The deaths are unlikely to be due to giardia. Giardia typically causes a self-limiting gastrointestinal illness that can easily spread in homes and school settings.”

Ms Savage added: “Investigations are ongoing and we have provided information and advice to the school and parents.

“Public health measures have been implemented to help prevent further cases.”

A UKHSA spokesman told The Telegraph that the cause of the deaths was not yet known. Merseyside Police said the force was not investigating the deaths.

The headmaster of Millstead Elementary School said the community was “devastated” by the deaths and that both pupils had “filled their classrooms with joy.”

Giardiasis can be transmitted by direct contact with infected people or animals or by ingesting contaminated water, food or drinks.

Any parents who are concerned that they or their children are experiencing symptoms are urged to contact a health care professional.

The Liverpool Echo was the first to report the suspected giardia outbreak at Millstead last month, with public health measures put in place to try to tackle the number of infections linked to the school, which caters for children with special educational needs.

The newspaper understands that the school closed for a week in an attempt to curb the growth of infections.

Speaking about the deaths of the two young children who attended her school, Michelle Beard, headteacher at Millstead, said: “The entire Millstead School community is devastated to learn of the recent sad passing of two of our youngest children.

“We send our sincere condolences to the families of both children. They both brought joy to their classes during their time with us and will always be in our hearts. We are working closely with our families, staff and students to support them as we deal with this terrible and sad news.”

Millstead School declined to comment when contacted by The Telegraph.