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News / Clark County News

Day care in fatal E. coli case still closed

Health officials continue to test facility's workers

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published: April 13, 2010, 12:00am

The Vancouver day care center associated with a fatal outbreak of E. coli 0157 will remain closed while people who work there continue to undergo testing, county health officials said Monday.

Dr. Alan Melnick, county health officer, said Fletch Family Daycare will remain closed until staff members who have tested positive for E. coli or displayed symptoms have two negative E. coli tests separated by 24 hours.

Clark County Public Health may allow the center to reopen next Monday or sooner, pending the outcome of test results, according to a news release.

One young boy who attended the child care center died as a result of an E. coli infection. Three other children were hospitalized with the infection, but have since been released.

Seven other people tested positive for E. coli 0157 without showing symptoms of illness.

On behalf of his family’s day care center, Larry Fletch e-mailed a message to local media outlets describing the complexities of the tragedy. They include episodes of what appeared to be a norolike virus — often termed “stomach flu” — among the families of several day care children.

In trying to reconstruct the progression and transmission of the outbreak, the health department couldn’t tell whether those families had experienced E. coli 0157 or the norolike virus, Fletch said.

Three of their four providers tested negative for any E. coli, and two of them handled dozens of dirty diapers throughout the episode without becoming infected, he wrote.

Every family that had a child in Fletch Family Daycare has committed to returning when the center is allowed to reopen, Fletch said.

The day care center closed April 2 following positive laboratory test results for E. coli O157. The closure was to remain in effect for at least 10 days, while public health staff monitored workers and children for the development of E. coli symptoms.

Children with E. coli symptoms or positive stool cultures for E. coli must not attend any day care until they have had two negative stool cultures separated by 24 hours.

Children who have met these requirements may attend other day care centers in the community now, and may return to Fletch Daycare when it reopens.

“The tragic death of a child has made this a difficult time for everyone responding to this outbreak, and we appreciate the cooperation of the day care owners in helping us implement control measures to contain the spread of the disease,” Melnick said in the news release.

“At this point, health officials believe that the outbreak has been contained and does not pose a threat to others in the community.”

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter