The closure of daycare facilities following an E. coli outbreak has severely impacted the lives of hundreds of families in Calgary. Closure orders were put in place for 11 childcare facilities immediately following lab-confirmation. While these closures were necessary to prevent the spread of E. coli and allow health officials to conduct a thorough investigation, Alberta’s government recognizes the added financial burden that families have experienced as a result.
To assist with additional costs incurred or family income lost during this closure, Alberta’s government will be providing all families whose child care provider was closed due to the outbreak with a one-time payment of $2,000 per child.
“This outbreak has devastated so many Calgary families. We are going to make sure everyone who has been impacted has the supports they need to navigate this ordeal. Government has no greater duty than keeping people safe, particularly children. We will get the answers we need to find out how this happened and make sure it won't happen again.”
Alberta’s government wants to ensure that parents have confidence in sending their children back to child care. In addition to the one-time payment , Children and Family Services is working with child-care providers to identify additional spaces in other centres. This will provide affected families with an additional option if they would prefer to send their children to a different centre. Parents can call the Child Care Connect line at 1-844-644-5165 for more information.
“Our hearts go out to the families who have been affected by the outbreak, and especially those who have spent their days and nights at the hospital caring for a very sick child. Parents should be able to feel confident in their providers. Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of children from the goodbye hugs at drop-off to asking how their day was at pickup. These supports will provide relief to help them navigate through these trying times.”
Hospitalizations and cases
As of Sept. 15, there were 337 lab-confirmed cases of E. coli connected to this outbreak. There are currently 12 patients receiving care in hospital. Ten 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.
“Our focus is on those patients who are still ill, and I know that our incredible health care workers are doing all they can to help them recover. Rest assured, those affected are receiving the best care possible and the health care needs of children and their families remain a top priority. As a government, we are committed to finding out how this happened and making any changes necessary so it doesn’t happen again.”
In total, 26 patients have contracted E. coli through secondary transmission. This occurs when someone has contact with one of the patients directly linked to the outbreak. All are within households already linked to the outbreak. Physicians say the small number of secondary transmissions highlights the fact that the quick response to this outbreak and communication with families has helped to limit the spread.
Children who remain in hospital continue to get the care they need, with numbers of hospitalized patients stabilizing compared with earlier in the week. Front-line health care teams are working to support their patients.
“We are heartened every time a patient is able to go home from hospital, but my thoughts remain with those children who continue to get the care they need as they fight this illness. My hope is that everyone is able to return to their families soon. We are committed to finding the source and cause of this terrible situation and are working tirelessly to get some answers.”
Alberta Health Services is providing up-to-date information to parents and the public on a dedicated web page, ahs.ca/ecoli, including information on the rescindment of closure orders, symptoms, testing requirements, as well as information for daycare operators.
Information will continue to be provided through media statements and media availabilities.
Closure orders for all 11 facilities have been rescinded following thorough and highly detailed reinspections by public health officers. These daycares have addressed immediate risks and met all requirements under the Public Health Act related to sanitization and safe operations. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
- Supplies of all approved sanitization products in place.
- Guidance for handwashing and sanitization available for all daycare staff
- Guidance for food handling/service at each facility.
One additional case of E. coli has been discovered at a separate daycare centre. While the investigation is ongoing, early indications suggest this child may have been in contact with one of the children involved in the outbreak. The child-care centre is under a closure order while an investigation takes place. Families and staff at the centre have been notified and are undergoing testing.
Children and staff from facilities with confirmed cases must meet certain requirements, including providing negative stool samples, before returning to a daycare. AHS has sent letters to all parents outlining these requirements and to provide advice and support.
AHS and Alberta Health treat public health concerns with the highest priority. 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.
The investigation into the outbreak is ongoing and staff are working to identify the specific cause. When that information is available, it will be shared with the public. Additionally, there will be a review of all shared kitchens serving child care facilities.
Guidance to parents
If children develop symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, families are encouraged to visit an emergency department. If a child is not symptomatic, do not take them to hospital. Families with concerns or questions can call Health Link at 8-1-1 or contact their family physician for advice and support.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this release contained an error