Alberta premier sends ‘thoughts and prayers’ to E.coli patients one week after outbreak

Click to play video: 'Calgary E. coli outbreak: Some patients developing kidney complications'
Calgary E. coli outbreak: Some patients developing kidney complications
Alberta's pediatric health system is being pushed to the brink, as hospitals deal with one of the biggest e.coli outbreaks involving young children in Canadian history. So far 142 lab cases have been confirmed cases, and the number is expected to grow. As Heather Yourex-West reports, some patients are now developing a related kidney and blood disease – Sep 8, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith sent “thoughts and prayers” to E.coli patients and their families on Sunday almost one week after the outbreak was declared.

As of Sunday, there are 190 lab-confirmed cases linked to the E.coli outbreak and 27 kids are in hospital. Seven patients were discharged from hospital.

Alberta Health Services said 20 patients have been confirmed to have severe illness and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a rare disease that affects the kidneys and blood clotting functions of people.

Calgary Zone medical officer of health Dr. Franco Rizzuti said Friday the severe  illness is part of a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection

Rizzuti also said a small number of kids require dialysis and dialysis machines were brought in from other AHS sites in case they are needed in the coming days.

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“I’m sending my thoughts and prayers to all the children who’ve contracted E. coli in the recent outbreak. My heart also goes out to the families of these little ones. Thank you to all the frontline workers who’ve been working tirelessly to treat and care for these children,” Smith said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday.

“I’ve asked the Minister of Health, Adrianna LaGrange, and the Minister of Children and Family Services, Searle Turton, to do a full assessment of this outbreak to ensure steps are taken to prevent this from happening in the future.”

LaGrange also posted a similar statement on her page.

“My thoughts and prayers are with every child and family that has been affected by the E. coli outbreak in Calgary,” her post said.

“I want to express my gratitude to our exceptional frontline staff at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Peter Lougheed Centre and South Health Campus. Each location now has a dedicated clinic to monitor symptomatic patients.”

This is the first time both government officials have said anything about the E.coli outbreak since it was declared on Sept. 4.

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This comes after experts said this is a “historic outbreak” and an outbreak of this magnitude is “highly unusual.” This is the largest outbreak in children less than five years of age associated with a single point source, they said.

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Two-year-old Amelia Leonard is one of more than 100 patients impacted by the E.coli outbreak.

Previously, Amelia’s father Ryan said it wasn’t until the second day of bloodwork that doctors caught any kidney dysfunction in Amelia.

Amelia is now on dialysis, which started Friday. Ryan said his daughter is more alert and awake since she started dialysis. Before, she would just sleep all day and wake up for a few minutes because she was so exhausted.

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“Now she is way more alert and she’s actually able to point out stuff again so now she’s starting to be like her normal self, but she is still in pain and kind of groggy,” he told Global News on Sunday.

“It’s definitely a day-to-day thing where we are seeing progress and stuff … It’s been hard to see her, having to go through this, especially at such a young age.”

Ryan added it’s hard to predict the future because of how unpredictable Amelia’s condition is.

“It’s hard to predict the future because three days from now she could be way better and then the day after she could start going down hill again,” he said.

“They said 80 per cent or 90 per cent of kids like her make it out without any permanent damage, and then there is the odd percent where you have lingering damage to the kidneys and have to go on dialysis for the rest of your life.“It’s still too early to say.”

On Saturday, AHS said it is collecting and testing samples from a central kitchen that is servicing several daycares in the Calgary area. However, an exact source of the outbreak has not yet been confirmed.

AHS said Sunday the central kitchen remains closed at this time.

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Smith and LaGrange’s statements also come after a group of parents filed a statement of claim for a potential class action Friday morning.

Maia Tomljanovic, partner at Cumming & Gillespie Lawyers, said the statement of claim names all of the daycares run by Fueling Brains Academy, central kitchen and other facilities.

The statement of claim says “negligent, unsanitary and unsafe food storage, preparation and handling practices” resulted in the E. coli infections, resulting in a variety of illness, emotional upset, and caused a loss of income and loss of “housekeeping capacity.”

They seek $150,000 per class member among other damages.

None of the claims have been tested in court.

Some daycare facilities to reopen

AHS said Sunday it is rescinding closure orders for four facilities effective Monday as long as no one from those sites tests positive for E.coli. These include Fueling Brains Bridgeland, Little Oak Early Education, Almond Branch and Braineer Academy.

“Public Health Inspectors have assessed the readiness of these four facilities to reopen and ensured that they have taken appropriate measures such as cleaning and disinfection,” AHS said in a statement.

The other seven facilities will have their orders rescinded on Tuesday. However, all staff and young children must not present any gastrointestinal symptoms and must test negative for E.coli before returning to the daycares. All will require clearance from health officials.

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–With files from Adam Toy, Global News. 

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