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310 confirmed E. coli cases in Calgary outbreak; all affected daycares cleared to reopen

Alberta Health Services (AHS) says as of Wednesday morning, the number of confirmed cases of E. coli connected to 11 Calgary daycares and a common kitchen between them is 310.

Twenty-one of those cases -- all children -- are receiving care.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) developed in 20 patients, seven of whom are on dialysis.

Fourteen patients have been released from hospital since the beginning of the outbreak.

Eighteen secondary transmissions have occurred, all within households linked to the outbreak, which AHS says shows the outbreak has remained well-contained.

"I know how incredibly difficult this has been for patients and their families. No child or family should have to go through this," said Dr. Tania Principi.

"The children are receiving the best care possible."

Principi says all patients are currently stable.

"My colleagues at the Alberta Children's Hospital and all the hospitals throughout the Calgary Zone are doing all they can to treat these patients and help them return to their health," she said.

"We're also continuing to keep affected families informed and equipped with guidance."

Brittany Chapman does everything she can to keep her daughter Taylor safe, so the recent outbreak at her three-year-old's pre-school gave her the scare of a lifetime.

Taylor was among those hospitalized.

"Daily blood draws, urine analysis, rectal swabs, stool samples -- you name it, the kids went through it," Chapman said.

AHS also said Wednesday that, at this point, the closure orders for all 11 daycares have been rescinded and they can reopen at their discretion.

"The closure orders were rescinded only after Alberta Health Services determined the facilities are safe environments for children and the staff, said Dr. Franco Rizzuti.

Rizzuti says AHS has yet to identify a source of the outbreak, but that "likely, the source of the outbreak is food that was distributed from the central kitchen."

The central kitchen is Fueling Minds, which is the same company that runs several of the affected daycares -- Fueling Brains.

According to Rizzuti, the kitchen was visited for inspection in July 2021, February 2022, October 2022 and this past January, "as well as several additional risk-management inspections to ensure that violations were corrected"

It was last inspected in April 2023, according to Rizzuti, and "two infractions were found at the time and they were corrected the same day of identification."

According to Rizzuti, "(after that) there were no outstanding violations left at that site."

Then, in September, during investigation following the outbreak, Rizzuti says at least three critical violations were discovered.

Some say more training is needed, given that Alberta only requires one employee per shift at any given time in a kitchen to be food-safety certified.

"Everybody needs some sort of training. I'd like to see a smaller amount of training more often," said Domenic Pedulla, president of the Canadian Food Safety Group.

To return to the reopened daycares, kids need to provide a negative test and be symptom-free for 21 days.

It's leaving some scrambling for childcare.

"We've been juggling between my mom driving out and taking my son -- she actually lives an hour away in and out to take him," said parent Sarah McLean.

The daycares are now offering credits for days that children miss but that's not sitting well with parents.

"Not a refund, which is obnoxious because most of us, a lot of us whose children were sick, aren't planning on returning. Rightfully so. We’ve lost complete trust in them," Chapman said. Top Stories

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