Additional daycare centers have been closed in Calgary, Canada, as the patient count in an outbreak of E. coli infections continues to increase. There are now 342 confirmed patients, mostly children younger than 5.

Alberta’s chief medical officer Dr. Mark Joffe said late Friday night that he has been made aware of additional daycare sites in Calgary where children have tested positive for E. coli. He said those centers are closed for inspections and deep cleaning.

After the centers reopen, no students or staff will be allowed to return unless they have negative tests for E. coli infection.

The Alberta Health Services (AHS) department reported that the closures came after a child tested positive for the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7. 

“The child was not in attendance at any of the daycares involved in the outbreak to date,” according to a statement from AHS.

“AHS is in contact with the family to further investigate to determine if this is linked to the Fueling Brains outbreak. Further review will look to confirm if there is a connection. AHS is communicating directly with families of this new daycare, Calgary JCC Child Care.”

During a radio program this morning Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said it appears that some parents who had children affected by the initial closures moved their children to other centers.

“The main message is for any parent who is involved in this initial outbreak, they have to be very, very careful that they’re not inadvertently causing these kind of secondary infections and make sure that their kids are not playing with other kids until they’ve got their . . . go-ahead that they’re clear of E. coli.”

The new facilities closed are Active Start Country Hills, the Scenic Acres location of CanCare Childcare, CEFA Early Learning Childcare – South, MTC Daycare, Renert Junior Kindergarten and Calgary JCC Child Care.

In his statement Friday night, Joffe said Vik Academy, which was part of the original closures and had reopened, is closed once again as a precaution pending testing results.

The outbreak was originally detected in early September and was officially declared on Sept. 4. Eleven daycare centers and the central kitchen that served them were closed. 

The daycare centers have been cleared to reopen, but the kitchen, KidsU Centennial – Fueling Minds Inc., remains closed. Inspectors found several violations of health codes, including cockroaches, pooling water on the floor, and a food thermometer stored in a bucket with uncleanable items.

“The operator indicated that cold foods were being transported to other locations over 90 minutes without temperature control. Appropriate equipment for keeping food cold during transport was not available,” inspectors reported.

The daycare centers that received food from the central kitchen and were temporarily closed were:

  • Fueling Brains Braeside — illnesses reported
  • Fueling Brains West 85th — illnesses reported
  • Fueling Brains New Brighton — illnesses reported
  • Fueling Brains Centennial — illnesses reported
  • Fueling Brains Bridgeland — illnesses reported
  • Fueling Brains McKnight — illnesses reported
  • Braineer Academy — cautionary closure
  • Kidz Space — cautionary closure
  • Little Oak Early Education (formerly Mangrove) — cautionary closure
  • Almond Branch School — cautionary closure
  • Vik Academy in Okotoks — cautionary closure

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.

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. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications.

About 5 percent 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, minor unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. 

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.

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