CALGARY — An Alberta health official says some of the 22 patients in hospital after an E. coli outbreak at several Calgary daycares have severe symptoms.
Alberta Health Services says there are now 96 laboratory-confirmed cases due to the outbreak, which is up from 56 on Tuesday.
Dr. Francesco Rizzuti, medical officer of health for the Calgary Zone, said Wednesday that the number in hospital has risen from 15. He said 16 are at Alberta Children's Hospital and six are at Peter Lougheed Centre.
"The majority of individuals that get sick from E. coli generally improve on their own and without specific treatment, typically within 10 days," Rizzuti said.
"However, a small portion may develop more severe complications. Currently, we have a handful of children who are hospitalized with these more serious illnesses related to this outbreak."
Rizzuti said that due to privacy concerns, he couldn't say how many are suffering from severe symptoms. He also would not would confirm any of them have hemolytic uremic syndrome, also known has HUS, which affects the kidneys and causes blood clots.
"Hemolytic uremic syndrome can be a severe consequence. At this time, because we do have small numbers and I want to respect the privacy of the parents, I'm unable to speak to the exact numbers," he said.
"But it is a small proportion of our laboratory-confirmed cases who do have severe illness and are in hospital at the moment."
Rizzuti said it was his decision to close six Calgary Fueling Brains daycares and five others out of an abundance of caution after he received calls from city emergency wards.
He said it could take a while before the investigation into the source of the E. coli is found. Public health officers have already taken samples from the central kitchen shared by the daycares.
"They collected a number of food samples, both leftover foods as well as frozen foods, from the site and these are being tested in our laboratory. These do take some time," Rizzuti said.
"Typically in outbreaks like this, we may not find a food source."
Faisal Alimohd, co-founder and chairman of Fueling Brains, said he's saddened that children are sick and immediately began working with AHS to investigate the outbreak.
"Though not all Fueling Brains child-care campuses are currently classified as being on outbreak status by AHS, we have proactively closed all potentially impacted locations as a precaution," Alimohd said in a statement.
"The exact source of the outbreak has not been identified, but we will be reviewing our policies, procedures and sourcing related to food services for our facilities."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 6, 2023.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press