The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has updated their investigation into the E. coli outbreak at The Learning Vine daycare center in Greenwood County. At this time, there are eight cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).
DHEC is working with the CDC, FDA, and the childcare facility to investigate the mode of transmission. The facility has voluntarily closed.
Here is the timeline: On May 18, the government was notified of a confirmed case of E. coli illness in a person associated with The Learning Vine. The person was interviewed, and was symptom-free since May 11. On May 29, DHEC was notified of a case of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in Greenwood County; this is a complication of an E. coli infection.
Interviews of close contacts of the case revealed that both cases were associated with The Learning Vine daycare facility. The government opened an investigation of a cluster of E. coli infections and tested other people who might be at risk. As a result of these testing, on June 7, there was laboratory confirmation of seven cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections. Those patients were individuals at the facility and their family members.
DHEC and The Learning Vine entered into a public health consent agreement to close the facility to limit the future spread of the infection. There is no risk to the broader community at this time, according to the DHEC statement.
There are “multiple individuals” who have experienced diarrheal illness since May 1, 2015, according to the DHEC. Samples are being taken and tested from all students and staff.
The symptoms of a STEC infection are severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, which is often watery and/or bloody, and vomiting. Most people get better within a week. But children under the page of five, the elderly, pregnant women, and people who a weakened immune system or chronic health problem are more prone to serious complications, including hemolytic uremic syndrome.
If you or someone in your family has had contact with The Learning Vine and has experienced these symptoms, see your doctor immediately. Complications from this infection, especially if it develops into HUS, can be severe and life-long.