COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina daycare is temporarily closing after seven cases of E. coli were traced to the center and at least one child appeared to have died from a disease caused by the bacteria.
The Learning Vine in Greenwood is thoroughly cleaning its daycare after the outbreak, according to a statement released Monday by the center.
The owners said they closed the daycare as soon as they got the first indication E. coli might have sickened some of its children and employees.
“We called in professional cleaners to scrub down our site,” the daycare wrote in the statement, adding the center would not reopen until employees can assure it is absolutely safe.
Health investigators have not determined how the bacteria got into the daycare, according to the statement.
At least four of the seven cases are the same strain of E. coli, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Two people infected with the bacteria remain in the hospital, DHEC said in a statement Monday.
The death of a 2-year-old boy at the hospital May 31 was connected to a disease that damages red blood cells which clog the kidneys that can be caused by an E. coli infection, Greenwood County Coroner Sonny Cox said last week.
Privacy regulations prevent DHEC from saying whether that boy’s death was connected to the E. coli outbreak at the daycare, DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said. But the statement from the daycare said “we are heartbroken that we have lost a member and others are sick.”
There are hundreds of E. coli and similar bacteria strains in the intestines of humans. Most are harmless, but a few can cause serious problems with vomiting and severe diarrhea.
The best way to stop the illness is to wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing a diaper and clean surfaces that might have been contaminated by human waste.
DHEC is testing all the employees and children at the daycare to see if they have E. coli, and the daycare will be cleared to open just over a week after everyone gets their test results back. While there is no way of testing surfaces to see if they are contaminated, the health agency says following cleaning guidelines will assure the bacteria is gone.
The daycare apologized several times for the outbreak, and thanked members of the community for their support.
“Thank you to all of the parents who have shown their tremendous support to The Learning Vine and our staff,” the statement read. “Your kind thoughts and prayers have helped us in a difficult time, and we appreciate each and every one of you.”
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