AN outbreak of e.coli has forced the temporary closure of a Limerick creche, the HSE confirmed this Monday.
It is understood that parents were told to take their children out of the suburban childcare facility last Tuesday and they expect the doors to reopen later this week. Around six children are believed to be carrying the e.coli VTEC 026 infection although fewer are showing symptoms, which can include bloody diarrhoea.
Parents have been asked in recent days to send stool samples to the microbiology department of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital as the HSE investigates the outbreak.
This strain of the e.coli bacterium is commonly associated with contaminated water and food but can also be transmitted from person to person. The HSE has this week stressed that the creche concerned meets the regulatory standards.
“A number of linked cases of verotoxigenic e. coli (VTEC) O26 infection have occurred in a creche in Limerick. In order to break the cycle of transmission of this infection among the children and with the agreement of the creche management, the creche has closed pending screening of all of the children and staff there for VTEC. The HSE is satisfied that the creche is fully compliant with pre-school standards,” a HSE spokesman said.
“Children from this creche will not be able to attend any other childcare facilities until they have been cleared. It is hoped that the creche will be able to reopen soon but the Department of Public Health requests that employers facilitate the parents while they are unable to avail of childminding. Parents have been advised that should their child develop diarrhoea, especially bloody diarrhoea, they should seek medical attention from their general practitioner.”
The HSE said over 200 cases of this strain were reported nationally last year and rates of infection in the Mid-West were higher than average.
In up to 10 per cent of cases, VTEC can lead to a more serious condition known as haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), which attacks the kidneys.
“The incidence of VTEC disease in Ireland is high in children under the age of five years as it is more easily spread between individuals in this age group. It usually requires no specific treatment other than ensuring plenty of fluids are taken,” the HSE said.