Health and safety violations have been reported at The Learning Vine daycare center in Greenwood, South Carolina, which is at the center of an E. coli outbreak. The report, issued by the South Carolina Child Care Early Care and Education department, lists 12 violations ranging from cross-contamination at diaper changing stations to open trash cans and a dirty fridge.
E. coli infections are spread by contact with infected human waste and animal waste. In this outbreak, at least eight people are sick with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria; some have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and one 2-year-old boy has died.
The daycare has received a “C” grade, which means the facility meets requirements, but that is the lowest grade on the scale. The violations that may be relevant to this outbreak include: refrigerator needs to be cleaned; kitchen needs probe thermometer to check temperature of food; trash can in kitchen needs to be covered; trash cans at diapering station need to be hands free and within reach of the changing table; and snack food was stored in the closet with toilet, diaper trash can, and basket with dirty towels.
To prevent E. coli infections, hands should always be washed after going to the bathroom and changing diapers; cross-contamination between uncooked meats and foods eaten raw should be avoided; and food should be kept at safe temperatures.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery, severe abdominal cramps, and a mild fever. If the infection is treated with antibiotics, the risk of hemolytic uremic syndrome increases. Prompt and correct treatment by a doctor is essential for a good recovery. Long term complications of this infection can include kidney disease, gall stones, heart problems, respiratory disease syndrome, and kidney failure.
All students and staff must be tested for E. coli before they can return to the facility. Anyone who has been sick with an E. coli infection needs two negative stool samples before they can return. In addition, The Learning Vine has to correct deficiencies and problems noted in the inspection report and follow other recommendations by the state.