Within hours of being diagnosed with swine flu, schoolgirl Phoebe Wyburd began to receive a string of text messages, one of which said: “You will die.”
The 12-year-old, one of six pupils at her school with the virus, has also had strange calls and abusive postings on the Facebook social networking website.
“We do feel a little bit like we’ve got the plague, but it is just like a minor cold,” said her father Francis. “We have had some crank calls. And there are some worried, quite aggressive parents saying ‘none of you should be allowed out'. It is rather extreme.”
Mr Wyburd, a management consultant, said that while many people were supportive, others misunderstood the severity of the virus and showed “ignorance”. Phoebe, he added, was feeling much better after being given the antiviral drug Tamiflu; the biggest problem was that she was bored by her enforced absence from the independent Alleyn's School in Dulwich, south-east London.
It was closed for a week on Monday, with all staff and pupils given Tamiflu.
“The school has been fantastic and the Health Protection Agency outstanding,” Mr Wyburd added.
Dolphin School in Battersea, southwest London, has also closed as a precautionary measure after two children, siblings of one of the sick pupils at Alleyn's, contracted the virus.