E. Coli At Daycare Kills One Child, Sickens Three Others

We write often about the dangers of food borne illness, frequently covering the issue of the very dangerous <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">E. coli pathogen and its potentially fatal outcomes. Sadly, a recent outbreak in Washington state has sickened some children at a day care center and caused the death of another child, said the Associated Press (AP).

According to health officials, a four-year-old boy died after falling ill with E. coli O157:H7, according to Dr. Alan Melnick, health officer for Clark county, Washington and Elizabeth Winter of the Washington state Department of Early Learning, wrote the AP. Three children were hospitalized and subsequently released, added the AP.

The day care, which is licensed, home-based, and run by Dianne and Larry Fletch, has been temporarily closed by county public health officials as of April 2, said the AP, which said that the day care is located in Vancouver and has been in operation since 1990; no complaints have been filed against the establishment since its opening, said Winter and 22 children receive services there, said Dr. Melnick.

The source of the outbreak remains unknown; however, health officials said that the outbreak—according to preliminary analyses—is not connected to food, water, or any one source, said the AP. T

In all, 22 children and four adults have been tested, with a number of those testing carrying the pathogen, but not being symptomatic, according to Dr. Melnick, wrote the AP, which noted what we have long been saying: The effects of E. coli are not always immediately obvious and can take up to 10 days to appear.

According to Dr. Melnick, the day care center will not reopen until two “consecutive” tests indicate no bacteria in staff and children who previously tested positive for the pathogen, said the AP.

Another AP report noted that health officials involved did not close the day care center for a number of days following the hospitalization of the children over concerns that the outbreak would spread further if parents moved their children to other day care centers. The first report occurred on March 19; however, Dr. Melnick said he did not close the Fletch Family Daycare until April 2, said the AP. The facility was finally closed after seven additional children and staff tested positive for the deadly strain.

Concerning the illnesses, death, and the timing of the facility’s closing, Dr. Melnick said, “This is really tragic and we’re certainly concerned about the kids who were hospitalized, but we’re also concerned about keeping this from spreading to other parts of the community,” quoted the AP.

E. coli are a group of bacteria found in animal intestines and feces. The very young, seniors, and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to food borne illness. While most people will recover from E. coli poisoning within seven-to-10 days, extreme cases can lead to kidney failure and death. Some people will require hospitalization, and even dialysis treatments or blood transfusions and E. coli may cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, deadly septicemia, and death. Of particular concern is the virulent, sometimes deadly E. coli O157:H7 strain.

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