Three toddlers in hospital as nursery is hit by outbreak of E coli 0157
THREE infants were being treated in hospital last night following a suspected E coli 0157 outbreak linked to the baby unit at a nursery school.
NHS Grampian confirmed that infection control specialists at the health authority are investigating two confirmed cases and four suspected cases of potentially deadly E coli O157 infection in children who attend Rose Lodge Nursery School in Aboyne, Royal Deeside.
The baby unit at the nursery school has been closed while investigations continue to identify the source of the bug. The garden in the grounds of the nursery in the heart of the village has also been declared out of bounds to the children but the nursery remains open.
The three children who have been admitted to hospital were all being cared for in the baby unit. There are a total of 40 children at the nursery, which takes children from six weeks up to the age of five.
NHS Grampian stressed yesterday the investigation to pinpoint a possible source for the bug was not focused solely on the nursery and that other potential sources of infection in the predominantly rural area were also being looked at.
It is the first significant outbreak of the bug in the area since 2002, when four members of a family from Oldmeldrum were struck down by the infection.
In September 2000, a two-year-old girl, Amy Jones, from Alvah, near Banff, died after being infected with E coli.
A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: “We are investigating two confirmed cases, and four suspected cases of E coli 0157 in children who attend Rose Lodge Nursery School In Aboyne. Three children are in hospital. Around 40 children attend the nursery at any one time.”
She would not comment on reports some of the infected children were on dialysis. “This is confidential patient information,” she said.
She stressed no orders had been issued to close the Aboyne nursery. She said: “Information received from the nursery and a joint inspection of the nursery by our health protection team and Aberdeenshire Council’s environmental health team identified reasonable food hygiene and infection control practices within the nursery.
“The investigation is not centring on the nursery. We are also investigating other potential sources of exposure. E coli 0157 are bacteria that are commonly carried in the gut of a variety of farm animals and their faeces.”
NHS Grampian was informed about the first possible case of infection on Sunday night and of two other cases on Tuesday.
The board spokeswoman said: “Effective control measures have been put in place. An inspection of the nursery has been carried out and an incident management team convened. All parents and carers have been sent a letter advising them of the incident and measures to take to prevent infection: careful hand and environmental hygiene. They have also been advised to contact their GPs if they have any concerns. ”
Julie Grant, the owner of the nursery, said in a statement: “Rose Lodge Nursery in Aboyne is currently working closely with the health protection team and environmental health.
“Following guidance we have taken the decision to close our baby room until further notice.”
She continued: “The nursery has a high standard of hygiene and rigorous infection control procedures. Our thoughts are with the children and families affected by the virus and we thank all the parents.”
Lauren Ferguson, the nursery manager, confirmed that the three children who had been admitted to hospital were all under two years of age. The baby unit normally cares for 12 infants.
LETHAL PAST OF VIRULENT BUG
• E coli 0157 was first identified as a cause of human illness in the United States only 30 years ago, when it was linked to the consumption of hamburgers and branded the “burger disease”.
• In 1996, in the worst single fatal incident in the world involving E coli 0157 infection, a total of 21 people died in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, after eating contaminated meat supplied by a local butcher, John Barr.
• The increasing number of major outbreaks in Scotland led to the establishment in 2001 of an E coli task force by the Food Standards Agency in Scotland. The task force’s report revealed that the biggest danger from E coli O157 was via human contact with the droppings of ruminating animals such as cows and sheep.
• In August 2010 two children from the Step by Step Nursery in Carrickstone, Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, were treated for E coli 0157 infection.
• And in May 2006 five children in Fife, including a toddler who suffered kidney failure as a result, were infected with E coli. All the children were connected to the Careshare nursery in Dunfermline. The infected toddler spent eight days on dialysis.
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