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E. coli outbreak connected to Calgary daycares sends up to 50 children to hospital

Emergency departments at Calgary hospitals have been flooded with children following an infectious disease outbreak at day cares across the city.

Alberta Health Sevices (AHS) confirmed that multiple children arrived at the Alberta Children’s Hospital with bloody diarrhea over the Labour Day long weekend, and that they are dealing with an E.coli outbreak.

The outbreak is believed to have originated at a central kitchen that is shared by six locations of Fueling Brains, a day care that operates multiple locations in Calgary, as well as five additional institutions, AHS said in its statement.

CBC News has reached out to Fuelling Brains. The company said they will respond on Tuesday with more information. 

12 patients hospitalized

In its statement, AHS said that there are 17 lab-confirmed cases that have been linked to the outbreak, as well as 12 individuals hospitalized.

Up to 50 children have come to hospitals, AHS said.

“A lot of these kids, unfortunately, have to be admitted for 24 hours,” said Dr.  Arun Abbi, president of Emergency medicine with Alberta Medical Association, told CBC News in an interview.

“They’ll have to make sure there’s no kidney damage.”

All of the sites linked to the central kitchen where the outbreak came from have been issued a closure order until the situation is resolved. They include: 

  • Fueling Brains Braeside.

  • Fueling Brains West 85th.

  • Fueling Brains New Brighton.

  • Fueling Brains Centennial.

  • Fueling Brains Bridgeland.

  • Fueling Brains McKnight.

  • Braineer Academy.

  • Kidz Space.

  • Little Oak Early Education (formerly Mangrove).

  • Almond Branch School.

  • Vik Academy in Okotoks, Alta.

Katie Mclean, whose daughter goes to the McKnight location of Fuelling Brains, said she started noticing symptoms late last week. 

“She was sent home with a very low fever and then over the next couple of days, there was blood in her diarrhea and that was the thing that tipped us off to call Health Link,” she said, referring to a phone line that provides health information and advice.

“We went to the ER on Sunday. It was filled with parents and toddlers …I overheard some other parents talking about an outbreak and their daycare.” 

Mclean said that she has not heard anything from the location her daughter attends about an outbreak yet.

In a letter addressed to parents of the New Brighton location obtained by CBC News, the daycare asks parents and guardians to make sure their children “urgently” seek medical attention if they display any symptoms of gastrointestinal outbreak symptoms.

Symptoms include nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, bloating or gas, loss of appetite, fever or fatigue. 

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