Number of E. Coli Cases Continues to Rise, but Fewer Patients With Serious Illness

Number of E. Coli Cases Continues to Rise, but Fewer Patients With Serious Illness
The Alberta Children's Hospital is shown in Calgary, on Sept. 12, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh)
The Canadian Press

The number of E. coli cases linked to an outbreak at several Calgary daycares continues to rise, but doctors say there are fewer patients in hospital with serious complications.

There were 310 lab-confirmed cases of the bacterial infection as of Wednesday, since the outbreak at 11 Calgary daycares was declared on Sept. 4.

Dr. Tania Principi, section chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Alberta Children’s Hospital, says the increase in overall case numbers is mostly due to a delay in getting lab results.

She says there has been a decrease in the number of children with serious illness showing up at the emergency departments and 14 patients have been discharged from hospitals since the beginning of the outbreak.

Twenty-one children are still receiving care at Alberta Children’s Hospital, 20 of whom have hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication affecting the blood and kidneys.

Seven patients are on peritoneal dialysis, which is a way to remove waste products from the blood and a treatment for kidney failure.

“We’re seeing that the patients on dialysis and even our HUS numbers have been fairly stable,” Principi told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re not seeing a significant rise in that, but we’re continuing to do tests and follow this last group of patients.”

There have been 18 E. coli cases from secondary transmissions, but Principi said all of those cases have been within households linked to the outbreak.

“If we’re able to continue to contain that secondary spread, we should be through the largest hump now and see potentially some increase in case numbers ... as tests come back,” she said.

“But, in terms of sick children and people, we should be at the tail end.”