09/28/2012 04:31 EDT | Updated 11/27/2012 05:12 EST

4,000 German children sickened in outbreak of suspected food-borne vomiting virus

BERLIN - German health authorities say at least 4,000 children have fallen ill with vomiting and diarrhea after eating food from school canteens and daycare centres.

The Robert Koch-Institut says it was alerted to a sudden surge in gastroenteritis cases that began late Tuesday in Berlin and surrounding regions.

The institute said in a statement late Thursday that laboratory investigations are under way to determine the exact cause of the outbreak.

But it says all facilities where the illness occurred likely received food from a single supplier, indicating it was a food-borne illness such as norovirus.

The norovirus is a common cause of food poisoning.