The patient count in an E. Coli O157:H7 outbreak among daycare centers in Calgary has increased to 128, with 25 children having been admitted to hospitals.

Officials now report that nine hospitalized children have been diagnosed with a complication that causes the kidneys to shut down.

Eleven daycare centers have been closed since Monday. Five of them may be allowed to reopen on Sept. 11 if no illnesses among attendees or staff have been confirmed. The five centers and six with known patients were closed as a cautionary move because they all use a central kitchen.

The Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli involved in the outbreak can also attack other organs and cause widespread organ failure. It is not unusual for children to appear to be recovering and then backslide into a much more severe infection.

Investigators have collected samples of leftovers and frozen food for testing, but those test results are not yet available.

About E. coli infections
Anyone who has developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Alberta Health Services officials said the outbreak has peaked, though more patients could be identified. There is a chance of secondary infections where sick patients expose others in their families to the bacteria.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications.

Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients. 

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, tiredness, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. 

People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.

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