March 8, 2002

Disease hits island's only public school

                 CODRINGTON, Barbuda (AP) -- Forty people suffering from diarrhea have
                 caused health officials to close a section of Barbuda's only public school and
                 begin importing bottled water, a health official said Friday.

                 Chief Health Inspector Lionel Michael told The Associated Press that 40 of the
                 island's 1,500 people have become sick since February 25. Preschool to Grade Five
                 of the Holy Trinity School was closed because so many students were sick.

                 Officials suspect the town's water supply, piped from a treatment plant to people's
                 cisterns, may be contaminated by droppings from cows and donkeys that roam the

                 Michael and a team of health officials collected 18 water samples for testing from
                 schools, hotels, restaurants, homes and public offices on Thursday. They also took
                 stool samples from affected people.

                 A few companies on sister island Antigua have been shipping bottled water to
                 Codrington, the town on Barbuda.

                 But health officials say that is not enough.

                 "There is a need for supplies for the disinfecting of the water that the residents get
                 from pipes and store in their cisterns," said Michael.

                 Three years ago, the government had considered building a reverse osmosis water
                 treatment plant, but objections were raised that residue from the plant would run
                 off into a fish hatchery.

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.