A HIGH school has told parents to keep their sick children at home after a number of pupils were struck down by a vomiting and sickness bug.

Mount Carmel Roman Catholic High School sent out a letter earlier this week warning parents about a possible outbreak of viral gastroenteritis, which is also known as norovirus.

The letter reads: "We have identified that a number of children within school are off ill at the present time with symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhoea and fever. The numbers are larger than would normally be expected, so after discussion with the Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Team we are writing to parents. The symptoms are suggestive of viral gastroenteritis and it is known that high levels of viral illness are currently circulating in the community.

"If your child is affected with these symptoms we would like to reiterate to parents, carers and staff members that children should remain off school until they have been symptom free for 48 hours. This advice will be strictly adhered to for the general health and wellbeing of the whole school community.

"We would like to thank you for your co-operation in this matter. Information leaflets about viral gastroenteritis are available from at http://www.patient.co.uk/health/norovirus-leaflet."

Norovirus is a stomach bug, which normally lasts for 48 hours, that causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

The illness can be spread by close contact with someone with norovirus, touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on them then touching your mouth, or by eating food that's been prepared or handled by someone with norovirus.