Since the E. coli outbreak was declared on Sept. 4, health care staff have been working to identify and care for those affected and identify the source. The results of the investigation will inform additional steps that may be needed to ensure this type of situation does not occur again.
“I am extremely concerned by this ongoing outbreak, and my heart goes out to everyone whose lives have been turned upside down by this event. I know that health care workers are doing everything they can to help those who are ill. Minister Turton and I are working together with AHS to make sure everyone involved is protected and cared for and we get to the bottom of what happened.”
“It's heartbreaking to see the lives of children and their families turned upside down by this outbreak. Right now we are focusing on the issue at hand: the safety and well-being of the children affected. We all want to know more about how this happened and what can be done to ensure we prevent this from happening again.”
Hospitalizations and cases
As of Sept. 12, there were 264 lab-confirmed cases of E. coli connected to this outbreak. There are currently 25 patients receiving care in hospital. Twenty-two patients have been confirmed as having hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a severe illness caused by E. coli infection. Six patients are receiving peritoneal dialysis at Alberta Children’s Hospital. Children with severe illness are in stable conditions and are receiving the care they need in hospital. Other children and families are receiving care and support at three outpatient clinics set up in Calgary hospitals.
Alberta’s government started notifying parents of the outbreak by letter on Sept. 3. AHS has updated parents and the public since declaring the outbreak through news releases and media availabilities to provide regular updates.
Eleven child-care facilities were closed as part of the outbreak investigation. Facilities with links to a central kitchen were closed out of an abundance of caution. AHS has since rescinded the closure orders for four facilities – Little Oak Early Education, Almond Branch, Braineer Academy and Fueling Brains Bridgeland – as no one from the sites has tested positive, and public health inspectors have ensured that the sites have taken appropriate measures such as cleaning and disinfection.
Decisions on site reopening after the closure orders are rescinded will be made by the operator. It is anticipated some or all of the other seven facilities will have their closure orders rescinded on Sept. 12, once health officials confirm it is safe to do so. Young children and staff will require clearance from health officials for the safety of all at the child-care facility. This will include testing negative for E. coli.
Central kitchen inspections
The central kitchen used by the daycares was inspected five times this year, with the latest inspection taking place on Sept. 5 following the proactive closure of the kitchen due to the outbreak. Prior to this closure, the facility was last inspected in April. Two infractions were found at that time and corrected immediately through collaboration between AHS and the operator. As of the end of April 2023, no violations existed in this kitchen.
However, three critical violations were identified during the inspection on Sept. 5 relating to food handling, sanitization and pest control. Two non-critical violations were also identified related to an odour and storage of utensils. The report is available on the AHS Environmental Public Health website.
The kitchen will not be allowed to reopen until all issues related to the infractions have been properly addressed and signed off by public health officials and the investigation into the E. Coli outbreak has been completed.
Guidance to parents
If children develop symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, families are strongly encouraged to visit an emergency department. If a child is not symptomatic, please do not take them to hospital. Families with concerns or questions can call Health Link at 8-1-1 or get in touch with their family physician for advice and support.
Details and regular updates about this outbreak can be found on the following AHS website: