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United Kingdom Nursery Reopens after Outbreak

Holly House nursery in Dollingstown near Lurgan is getting ready to reopen after 12 British children were infected there with E. coli O157:H7.

The source of the sometimes-deadly pathogen remains unknown.  The County Down nursery closed because of the outbreak, and followed other recommendations from the United Kingdom’s Public Health Agency.

A Holly House spokeswoman said the nursery was doing everything it could to prevent future transmission of bacteria among children, but could not guarantee there would be no more cases. 

Unlike many E. coli outbreaks, this one did not cause any children to become seriously ill, health officials say.

Holly House, which will open again on Friday, has not required any major alterations to the nursery.

Health officials say the pathogen might be spread by household transmission, and they urged families to take necessary precautions.

Food samples tested have returned negative results, leaving no evidence that any food was the source of the infection.

When it closed, the nursery said it was taking the action out of concern for the children and their families, along with the Holly House staff.

E. coli infections can occur when someone comes into contact with food or beverages that have been contaminated with fecal matter from farm animals, especially cattle.

The E. coli outbreak associated with Holly House is the largest experienced in the UK since last year’s Godstone Farm outbreak. About 100 visitors to the “open farm,” mostly children, were infected with E. coli O157: H7.

An inquiry into the Godstone Farm outbreak resulted in stronger hygiene measures for open farms, which enjoy about five million visitors a year in Britain. The inquiry also said Godstone was slow to recognize the medical emergency resulting from the outbreak.

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