The Health Ministry is investigating the outbreak of a mysterious epidemic of sores that has struck almost a third of the children at a kindergarten in Kfar Shalem, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv. Ten of the 35 youngsters at the "Samech-Zayin" gan have been afflicted with painful, pus-filled sores and nosebleeds since the school year began last month, and although doctors have prescribed antibiotics, they are not yet sure exactly what is causing the outbreak.
According to the report, children at the same kindergarten were hit by a bacterial epidemic a year ago that gave them nosebleeds and itchy rashes. The source of the bacteria turned out to be cat droppings in the sandbox in the yard. The report said the current outbreak seems to be similar, and the children are now suffering doubly: once from the outbreak itself, and again because they are not being allowed outdoors to play and must remain inside all day.
The report added that neither the city nor the Health Ministry appear to be in any hurry to solve the problem, with no officials visiting the kindergarten, speaking with parents, or even arranging for the sand to be cleaned and sterilized or removed and replaced. Sand covers the entire yard of the kindergarten as well as being in the sandbox.
A Health Ministry spokesman said the ministry was investigating the outbreak. A municipal spokesman said that despite the evidence of numerous parents, only two children had been "stung" and it was not clear if the sand was the source. The spokesman said the city had ordered that the sandbox be covered each evening, and that all the sand at the kindergarten be raked daily. The spokesman added that the city had built a fence to prevent cats from entering the kindergarten.
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