The Number of E. Coli Cases Linked to Calgary Daycare Outbreak Appears to be Leveling Off

The E. coli outbreak that started in late August in Calgary daycares seems to be leveling off, according to Alberta Health Services (AHS). A total of 348 lab-confirmed cases have been connected to the outbreak, with 27 of them being secondary cases. However, no additional secondary transmissions have been confirmed recently. Calgary-area hospitals currently have nine patients with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe kidney- and blood-related outcome, which is a decrease from previous days. The outbreak appears to have peaked, according to AHS.

Seven daycares in Calgary remain closed as children from the outbreak were suspected to have attended them. Some children and staff are also restricted from returning to MTC Daycare until they test negative for E. coli and show relief of symptoms. However, 642 children connected to the outbreak have been cleared to return to daycares.

The official Opposition is demanding an independent inquiry into how hundreds of children were infected with a preventable disease. However, the premier is considering adding the STEC outbreak to the review of the province’s COVID-19 response. Calgary-Acadia MLA Diana Batten criticized the government for allowing the suspected kitchen at the heart of the outbreak to continue operating despite multiple critical violations found by health inspectors. She also questioned the clarity of communication to parents and suggested an external investigation of the outbreak and the systemic circumstances that led to it.

If a full inquiry is conducted, it would follow the example of the Walkerton E. coli outbreak in Ontario in 2000, which resulted in two reports and recommendations to improve water quality and public health. The premier has hired Preston Manning to review the province’s COVID-19 response, including the Public Health Act. However, critics argue that Manning’s credibility is questionable due to his denial of science and spread of conspiracy theories during the pandemic.