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Nursery E coli outbreak ‘destroyed boy’s life’

Lucy Cox with son Bo, who cant see or hear, needs dialysis four times a week, and has been in hospital for two years. Picture: Hemedia

Lucy Cox with son Bo, who cant see or hear, needs dialysis four times a week, and has been in hospital for two years. Picture: Hemedia

  • by TAMSIN TYESON
 

A MOTHER has spoken for the first time about an E coli outbreak at a Scottish nursery that left her son blind and deaf.

Bo Cox was one of four children and two members of staff who became infected with the potentially fatal bug at Rose Lodge Nursery in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, in May 2012.

Yesterday his mother, Lucy Cox, said that her son suffered acute kidney failure as a result of contracting the illness. He has had most of his bowel removed and undergone 19 operations.

Bo, aged three, receives dialysis four times a week and cannot see or hear. He is fed through a tube and has spent the past two years as a patient at Glasgow’s Yorkhill Children’s Hospital.

The consultant who treated Bo said it was the worst case of 
E coli he had seen in a child who had not died. Yesterday, Ms Cox said she felt “bitter and sad” that her son’s life has been destroyed and she had been robbed of 
normal motherhood.

Bo was the only one who contracted the bug at the nursery who did not make a full 
recovery.

An official report into the outbreak found the infection had been brought in by a child, possibly after coming into contact with animal faeces from surrounding land or a contaminated water supply, and spread due to weak infection-control practices at the nursery at the time.

Ms Cox, 40, said: “Of course there is bitterness and sadness. Bo’s conditions are still life-threatening and, at times, we have been on a knife edge wondering whether he would survive. It has had a really deep effect on us all and it is not something we can get over. It won’t ever get better and it
will never be back to how it should be.”

A report prepared by NHS Grampian and Aberdeenshire council in August 2012 demanded improvements to hand-washing and some other hygiene practices at the nursery, after it was found that staff in the nappy room may not have been cleaning their hands properly because the water was too hot. Staff were ordered to stop using a communal hand-washing bowl.

In July last year, the Care Inspectorate said the nursery had addressed all infection-control matters, and rated the service as “good” in all areas.

But Ms Cox claimed there has been a lack of recognition of the consequences of the E coli outbreak.

She said: “There has been no mention to how extreme Bo’s illness has been. When the report was written in 2012, he was just coming out of intensive care, but things continued to get worse.

“We feel so insignificant or that it doesn’t matter, or that people think, ‘It’s not my child so it’s not my problem’.”

Ms Cox now lives permanently in Glasgow to be near Bo, who will continue to receive medical treatment at Yorkhill.

Ms Cox, a former office manager, cares full-time for her son.

A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate said the family had suffered a “tragedy”.

He said: “No family should have to go through a tragedy like this.

“It highlights, in a heartbreaking way, the need for every agency to be vigilant and proactive in doing everything possible to prevent infection.”

 

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