An E. coli outbreak at the Learning Vine daycare center has sickened 14 children, according to the latest update from the state South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Two children were hospitalized and one of them has died from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a complication of E. coli infections that leads to kidney failure.
Samples from 11 of the confirmed cases have undergone genetic “fingerprinting” tests that show the infections are all from the same strain of shiga toxin producing E. coli.
Health officials have not identified the source of the outbreak, but they say there is no evidence that it is ongoing. Tests on 262 other samples were negative for E. coli and no illnesses have been reported with onset dates after June 1. The center has been cleared to reopen Monday.
Although some of those who were sickened reported onset of illness in early May, the state health department first learned of an E.coli case at the daycare center on May 18. About 10 days later, a case if HUS was linked to the facility.
In its last inspection before the outbreak, Learning Vine received a letter grade of C and was cited for 12 health and safety violations including a dirty refrigerator, and uncovered trash can in kitchen, lack of hands-free trash cans at diapering stations, no sink near diapering stations, and snack food stored in a closet with a diaper trash can, and basket with dirty towels.
Young children are among those most at-risk for E. coli infections and for HUS. E.coli lives in the intestines of humans and other animals and is transmitted when food or drinks contaminated with microscopic amounts of feces are ingested. This can happen when food handers don’t wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
People can be infected after ingesting food or liquids contaminated with trace amounts of human or animal feces, CDC reports.
Infection also can occur after someone comes into contact with the feces of infected people, such as by changing diapers, and by consuming food prepared by people who didn’t wash their hands well after using the bathroom.