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Calgary daycares in E. coli outbreak could reopen next week: AHS

The 11 Calgary daycares connected to an E. coli outbreak may be able to reopen next week, barring any further cases and if they get clearance from Alberta Health Services (AHS).

AHS provided an update on the E. coli outbreak situation, indicating that they have 142 lab-confirmed cases, with 26 in hospital. Eleven of the hospitalized children have the more serious illness related to the E. coli infection, with a small number of patients receiving peritoneal dialysis. Of the 26 in hospital, 25 are at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

Five people have so far been discharged since the outbreak.

“Dialysis machines have been brought in from other Alberta Health Services sites, as well as rented, to ensure we have adequate capacity to care for patients now and in the coming days,” said Dr. Francesco Rizzuti, one of the Medical Officers of Health for the Calgary Zone.

Rizzuti said that they continue to try to nail down the source of the outbreak. To date, they’ve been unsuccessful.

“In the meantime, since opening the outbreak, our public health team has used multiple measures to control this outbreak and protect the health and safety of children and staff,” he said.

“Our expert staff have conducted inspections and food testing along with providing extensive cleaning and sanitization direction for the central kitchen and all 11 effective daycare operations.”

Dr. Rizzuti also said they are only allowing children or staff who have become ill to return to daycares if they’re no longer able to transmit the bacteria.

Re-opening next week

Thus far, four daycare sites have not had anyone reporting an E. coli diagnosis or symptoms, Dr. Rizzuti said. Those locations are: Fueling Brains Bridgeland, Little Oak Early Education, Braineer Academy and Almond Branch School.

Provided these locations don’t have any children with reported illnesses, Dr. Rizzuti said they could reopen on Sept. 11.

Students and staff at the remaining seven locations have had an additional exclusion order placed on them, to stop any spread of the E. coli. outbreak.  They will not be able to attend any other childcare facility at this time.

“These seven facilities will be permitted to reopen Tuesday, September 12,” he said.  

“However, children and staff will require clearance from Alberta Health Services.”

Dr. Rizzuti said these are the public health protocols they follow for all outbreaks.  Parents will get phone calls from Health Link or AHS public health teams with their potential rescind orders.

“We will continue to keep families informed and equipped with guidance on which symptoms to monitor for and next steps,” he said.

Cases numbers are expected to stabilize over the weekend, Dr. Rizzuti said. Their hypothesis still centers around a single point of infection and case numbers are in line with that theory.

The focus right now, he said is ensuring there’s no further spread. Acute care and public health teams will be working over the weekend should more cases present.

Further information is being made available at ahs.ca/ecoli, and it will be updated over the weekend.