Monaghan creche closes over E.coli outbreak

Children and staff in Ballybay creche to be screened for infection

The E.coli outbreak is believed to be of a  strain of the bacteria which causes mild illness in most cases.

The E.coli outbreak is believed to be of a strain of the bacteria which causes mild illness in most cases.

 

A community creche in Co Monaghan has been closed over an outbreak of an E.coli infection among children and staff.

Ballybay Community Creche was forced to close following the outbreak, to limit the spread of the infection. All children and staff members are due to be screened to see if they have picked up the infection.

The outbreak is believed to be of the Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VETC) strain of the bacteria, which causes mild illness in most cases.

However in some serious cases VETC can produce a toxin that damages the wall of the bowel, which can lead to severe diarrhoea. In 5-8 per cent of cases the infection can cause haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS), which is potentially life threatening.

HUS, which is more common among children under five years of age and the elderly, can result in the loss of red blood cells and subsequent kidney failure.

A spokeswoman for the Health Service Executive said the Monaghan creche was closed after “a number of linked cases of VTEC infection” were detected.

“Parents and caregivers of children attending the creche have been advised to monitor their children to see if they develop the symptoms of diarrhoea, particularly bloody diarrhoea,” the spokeswoman said.

In such cases children should be taken to their general practitioner or out-of-hours service for “prompt medical attention,” she said.

VTEC is commonly transmitted by personal contact, and is particularly common in childcare facilities.

So far this year there have been 36 recorded cases of VTEC infections in the northeast region. In a minority of cases the patients were hospitalised, but there were no fatalities. In 2017 there were 73 recorded cases.

The HSE has previously warned the frequency of VTEC infections has been increasing in recent years, and advised the public to avoid infection by taking precautions such as keeping up good hand-washing practices.