The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed seven cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli associated with The Learning Vine daycare facility in Greenwood, South Carolina. That facility is located at 101 Overland Drive in Greenwood. The facility has closed voluntarily and staff has been cooperating with public health officials.
A 2-year-old boy, Myles Mayfield, died May 31, 2015 from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a complication of an E. coli infection. The statement from DHEC does not mention Myles, but lab cultures have confirmed that four of the E. coli cases associated with that facility are from the same strain of bacteria. Two people are currently hospitalized.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said in a statement, “our primary concern is protecting the health and safety of the community. As we continue to work closely with the daycare facility and community partners to identify the source of the contamination and stop the spread of the infection.”
She continued, “while we understand the public interest in this evolving investigation, we also remain committed to respecting the privacy of the patients and families affected by this illness. At this time, there is no evidence of ongoing transmission of the infection within the facility. However, due to the possibility of bacterial shedding from individuals who do not have symptoms and out of an abundance of caution, DHEC and The Learning Vine have agreed to close the facility to reduce the risk of potential infection until all daycare staff and attendees are tested.”
So far, public health officials have completed an initial onsite inspection of the daycare and provided cleaning guidance, conducted more than 50 interviews to identify and notify those who may be at risk, and collected and tested samples for lab analysis. And a hotline has been set up for anyone who is concerned about possible illnesses. It is 1-800-868-0404.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, which is often watery and/or bloody, and vomiting, along with a mild fever. If this infection is treated with antibiotics, it may develop into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure and death. The symptoms of HUS include low or no urine output, pale skin and easy bruising, skin rash, jaundice, and decreased consciousness. If your child has been experiencing any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.
To avoid E. coli infections, always wash your hands after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper, and before preparing food and eating. Keep children home if they have a diarrheal illness. Do not eat raw or undercooked ground beef, raw milk, or unpasteurized cider. And avoid cross-contamination between uncooked meat and foods that are eaten raw.