Skip to main content

Hundreds of Japanese children fall ill in suspected food poisoning outbreak

By Yoko Wakatsuki, CNN
updated 1:17 AM EST, Fri January 17, 2014
Six-year-old Japanese elementary students raise their hands at a school in Tokyo on June 11, 2013.
Six-year-old Japanese elementary students raise their hands at a school in Tokyo on June 11, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hundreds of children fall ill with symptoms of food poisoning in Hamamatsu, Japan
  • Authorities suspect norovirus caused the outbreak
  • Health officials are testing school lunches to determine the origin of the illness
  • The case follows a food poisoning scare that left 1,400 people ill in recent weeks

Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- At least 905 children have called in sick to schools in a suspected case of mass food poisoning in Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture, forcing the local government to cancel classes at 15 elementary schools to prevent the outbreak from spreading.

The children from Hamamatsu, a coastal city about 125 miles southwest of Tokyo, suffered vomiting and diarrhea, officials said Thursday, while 41 teachers and staff showed the same symptoms.

READ: Food poisoning: What you need to know

Authorities suspect the outbreak was caused by norovirus, a common source of foodborne illness.

The highly contagious virus was "detected in about half of the stool samples taken from sick pupils," said Horihiro Ishizaka, a Hamamatsu city public relations official.

The city's hygiene office is testing school lunches eaten by the students to confirm the cause of the outbreak, Ishizuka said.

READ: Which country has the best food?

Local news reports said the schools used an ingredient from one shared supplier.

The city has closed most of the affected schools and canceled classes at others through Friday in wake of the incident, which comes less than a month after 1,400 people across Japan fell ill after eating frozen foods that may have been tainted with pesticides.

READ: Faux pas! Food fraud on the rise

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It was supposed to be a class trip to a resort island. Instead, the ferry capsized, turning the afternoon into a deadly nightmare.
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It's hard not to be nervous, standing outside the Ebola isolation wards.
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Ukraine says it's forces have regained control of an airfield from Russian separatists. Nick Paton Walsh reports.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis".
updated 5:26 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
ADVERTISEMENT