UK school sees cases of highly-contagious and deadly Victorian disease confirmed

Parents at a primary school have been given an urgent warning after a case of a potentially deadly Victorian-era disease was confirmed.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said one person had tested positive for diphtheria at Wigmore Primary School in Luton, Bedfordshire.

Health officials reportedly said that they were aware of the case and have since taken action, and that the person affected "has been on treatment and is recovering well".

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Vaccinations and advice will now be given to prevent the spread of the infection, though the UKHSA stressed that the risk of transmission is low.

A full risk assessment has been conducted, they added, and all close contacts have been informed. The UKHSA told the Sun it was working with its national and local partners to ensure the public is protected from the disease.

According to the NHS, diphtheria can affect the nose, throat and skin and can sometimes be fatal. The bacterial infection tends to spread through coughs and sneezes or those who have contracted it.

People can also become infected by touching affected items such as cutlery or bedding.

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In the last ten years, England has seen a rise in diphtheria cases from an average of two to 11 annually, according to official data. Despite this, it's still a rare infection in the UK, thanks to the successful immunisation programme launched in 1942.

This was a time when about 60,000 cases were reported yearly, with around 4,000 fatalities. The vaccine is widely accepted in the UK, being part of the 6-in-1 doses given to babies at eight, 12 and 16 weeks old, and then again at 3 years and four months as part of the 4-in-1 pre-school booster.

The UKHSA and Wigmore Primary School have been contacted for comment.

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