E. coli outbreak at Calgary daycare facilities declared over nearly 8 weeks after it began

WATCH ABOVE: Some Global News videos about an E. coli outbreak in Calgary in 2023.

An E. coli outbreak linked to a kitchen facility that served daycares in the Calgary area and led to 356 cases being confirmed — along with 90 more deemed to be “probable” cases — has been declared over.

“The entire outbreak is closed now that all 11 original sites that received food from the central kitchen are individually off outbreak status.” Alberta Health Services said in a news release issued Tuesday.

The E. coli outbreak, was declared on Sept. 4 and affected multiple Calgary-area daycare facilities. Health officials have said that meatloaf and vegan loaf meals served at daycares on Aug. 29 most likely contained the E. coli bacteria that led to the initial infections.

“A total of 1,581 children connected with this outbreak have been cleared to return to a daycare facility.

“Some individuals who have tested positive for E. coli remain excluded from returning to daycare.”

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Click to play video: 'Company at centre of Calgary E. coli outbreak facing charges'
Company at centre of Calgary E. coli outbreak facing charges

Those who are not yet allowed to return to daycares will have their lab results monitored by the province’s public health authority.

Alberta Health Services said in its update that there has been a total of 446 E. coli cases connected to the outbreak — including 356 that have been lab confirmed and another 90 probable cases.

“These individuals require a rescind/clearance letter from AHS in order to return to daycare/work,” AHS said. “There were a total number of 32 lab-confirmed secondary cases linked to this outbreak.

“Thirty-eight children and one adult were hospitalized, with 23 of these patients diagnosed with the severe outcome of hemolytic uremic syndrome, and eight requiring peritoneal dialysis. No patients remain in hospital, and there have been no deaths.”

While the outbreak has been declared over, the central kitchen facility tied to the outbreak remains under a closure order.

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Click to play video: 'External panel to probe E. Coli outbreak in Alberta'
External panel to probe E. Coli outbreak in Alberta

“At this time, the criteria for rescinding the order have not been met,” AHS said. “In order for the kitchen to reopen, the closure order must be rescinded by AHS, which requires multiple steps, including a food safety plan submitted to and approved by AHS.”

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Late last month, the City of Calgary announced it had charged a catering company and school lunch delivery service provider at the centre of the outbreak.

The city alleged Fueling Minds Inc. had been providing third-party food services to five child-care centres not owned by the company without a proper licence.

The corporation and its two directors have each been charged under the municipal business licensing bylaw for operating without a business licence for a total of 12 charges.

Last month, Fueling Minds issued a statement and said it was “devastated by the E. coli infection affecting our community.”

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Click to play video: 'Calgary E. coli outbreak: Catering company charged with bylaw infraction for operating without business licence'
Calgary E. coli outbreak: Catering company charged with bylaw infraction for operating without business licence

“The well-being of our clients and staff has been and remains our foremost concern,” the statement said in part.

“When Alberta Health Services notified us of the outbreak on Sept. 4, we immediately suspended our kitchen operations and contracts with the affected childcare centres.

“We have been working closely with AHS to identify the source of the outbreak and the kitchen remains closed until further notice. During this period, our staff have been placed on temporary leave with pay.

“Our priority is the health of our community. Until the AHS investigation is complete, we are not considering next steps.”

AHS said Tuesday that even though the outbreak has been declared over, medical professionals continue to support people who are still experiencing stools that are testing positive for E. coli.

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Calgary E. coli outbreak: Alberta NDP calls for public inquiry

“AHS acknowledges that a large number of families and individuals was impacted by this outbreak, and our teams continue to support them in their recoveries. We are also extremely grateful to the physicians and frontline health-care workers who provided incredible care to these patients during this challenging time.”

Alberta Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, that the government is focused on ensuring Albertans never experience another E. coli outbreak.

“This is why we have an external panel led by former Calgary police chief Rick Hanson working to review food safety in kitchens that provide food in licensed child-care facilities,” she wrote.

“We will keep Albertans informed as the panel works to complete its report.”

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The panel does not have a set timeline, but the province has said it would bring in interim recommendations as needed rather than wait for the final report.

The company that runs the kitchen, Fueling Minds Inc., and its two directors also face 12 charges under municipal business bylaws and a total fine of up to $120,000. They are scheduled to appear in court in November.

–With files from Global News’ Adam Toy and The Canadian Press

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