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96 lab-confirmed cases linked to E. coli at Calgary daycares, 22 kids in hospital: AHS

Dr. Francesco Rizzuti, medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services Calgary zone, spoke Wednesday about an E.coli outbreak affecting several local daycares.  (CBC News - image credit)
Dr. Francesco Rizzuti, medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services Calgary zone, spoke Wednesday about an E.coli outbreak affecting several local daycares. (CBC News - image credit)

There are now 96 lab-confirmed cases linked to the current E. coli outbreak in Calgary daycare centres, the AHS confirmed in a press conference Wednesday.

Dr. Francesco Rizzuti, medical officer of health with AHS Calgary zone said that of the 96 cases there have been 22 hospitalizations thus far.

Sixteen of those patients are currently at the Alberta Children's Hospital, while six are at the Peter Lougheed Centre. AHS confirmed that all of those hospitalized are children.

The first patients were admitted over the Labour Day weekend, reporting symptoms such as bloody diarrhea.

Rizzuti noted that a number of the patients who have been hospitalized are struggling with "serious illness."

"The majority of individuals [infected with E. coli] generally improve on their own," said Rizzuti, "however a small portion may develop more severe complications."

Hospital care for those infected with E. coli can include treatment for dehydration, or, on a more severe scale, continued monitoring for hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease which affects the kidneys.

Rizzuti added that patients could also be monitored for any kind of secondary infection, including sepsis.

"AHS understands the stress and concern this is causing families with sick children," said Rizzuti.

He added that AHS is still investigating the source of this outbreak and will continue to update families as information becomes available.

While 11 daycare centres were closed over the weekend, Rizzuti noted that not all of the sites have been positively linked to the outbreak. But as the AHS is still conducting its investigation of the outbreak, Rizzuti said that families whose children attended any of the 11 sites should continue to monitor for symptoms.

E. coli is most commonly contracted from consuming unsafe food, and can be easily transmitted through skin-on-skin contact.

Rizzuti said that the shared kitchen used by the 11 sites "was in compliance with AHS health regulations" prior to the outbreak.

He added that both fresh and frozen food samples have been collected from the kitchen and are being tested.

"In cases like this we may not find a food source. Our main focus thus far has been to prevent any additional transmission or spread."

More to come...

With files from Kylee Pedersen