Nova Scotia

E. coli outbreak contained at Dartmouth daycare

A daycare in Dartmouth, N.S., believes it has stopped an outbreak of the E. coli bacteria.

A daycare in Dartmouth, N.S., believes it has stopped an outbreak of the E. coli bacteria.

Seven children at Crystal Daycare and two of their siblings have been infected by the bacteria since the middle of August, but the outbreak did not originate at the daycare.

Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, the medical health officer for the capital region, said there hasn't been a new case since last week.

"That's typically how outbreaks will go. It's not like there's a big source at the daycare that we can come in and clamp down on it, clean up and be done," she said Friday.

"It's the children that are the ongoing source and catching up with them and their disease can be a challenge. An outbreak like this can go on for several weeks for that reason. It's been exhausting for the parents, it's been exhausting for the daycare staff."

More than 90 children use the facility and public health officials say the E. coli was brought in by one of them.

Extra cleaning, isolation of sick kids

Daycare workers have been disinfecting everything in the centre twice a week since the outbreak began.

"It's not just upping their environmental cleaning, but also in terms of being really strict on the isolation of sick children. A child may be perfectly well in the morning and by three o'clock they're sick. As soon as they spot that, that child's going home," Watson-Creed said.

"In this case, because it's E. coli, we always take the step of saying the children can't come back until we've seen a negative stool sample."

Watson-Creed said E. coli can cause problems for young children because it produces a toxin that can attack organs, particularly the bowels and kidneys. 

Three of the affected children are already back at the centre. Watson-Creed said health officials will continue to monitor the daycare just in case the outbreak flares up again.