Four Tulsa E. Coli Cases Involving Children Under Investigation

Thursday, June 2nd 2011, 3:07 pm
By: News On 6 & Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Authorities are investigating whether the Boston Avenue Weekday Preschool in Tulsa is the link between four cases of E-Coli infection.

Four children, three of them students at the preschool, have either confirmed or suspected cases of the infection.  The fourth elementary age child, is the sibling of one of the students.

"Two cases have been confirmed. They are siblings and they were in the hospital," Kaitlin Snider, with the Tulsa County Health Department, said. "Two other cases are suspected and we're waiting for lab results which we are optimistic we'll have by the end of tomorrow."

Snider said epidemiologists from the Health Department have visited Boston Avenue to look for possible sources of the contamination, but so far have not found it and are not sure whether it originated at the preschool, or was simply passed between students.

"Our epidemiologists are working closely with their administrators to determine what may be a source of contamination and they will work there until there is some sort of solution," she said.

Boston Avenue issued a statement that said "We pray the source of the outbreak will be identified quickly, that the children who have been involved will recover quickly and completely."

But the Health Department believes the source might not be found.

"It's challenging to pinpoint where they may have picked up the e-coli infection," Snider said.

It's hard to find because it can be several days between the time of infection and the onset of symptoms, and several more days before it's confirmed.

Parents of children that attend the childcare center have been notified of the cases and are being educated about symptoms to be aware of in their children.

At this time, there are no indications that this E. coli infection is related to the E. coli 0104 or STEC 0104 infection currently going on in Germany. 

Symptoms of E. coli can range from mild to severe, and include:

  • Diarrhea,
  • Severe stomach cramps,
  • Vomiting
  • If there is a fever it is usually not very high (less than 101o F).

Most people get better within 5-7 days. The time between exposure and feeling sick is usually 3-4 days, but may be as short as 1 day or as long as 10 days.

Below is a statement from Boston Avenue United Methodist Church:

Boston Avenue Church's preschool director was contacted yesterday by the Tulsa Helath Department and informed about two confirmed and two suspected cases of E.Coli, and that three of those children are students in our Weekday Preschool. Our preschool is a common link, but is not the only one that has been identified.

Our first concern is for the health and safety of these children and all children in our care. We immediately agreed to cooperate fully in any investigation needed, informed our preschool parents about the cases, and shared information with them about symptoms to be aware of in their own children.

Today, [Thursday] the Health Department investigators have toured all of our classrooms and kitchen and interviewed our teachers. At this time, they have found no reasons for concern. The investigation is ongoing.

As a state licensed preschool, our Weekday School is inspected every three months by Oklahoma Health Department officials. We have never had a non-compliance citation regarding a health or cleanliness issue. Our Weekday Preschool director is nationally certified, and works diligently to ensure that all children in our care are nurtured and educated in a safe, clean enivronment.

We pray that the source of the outbreak will be identified quickly, that the children who have been involved will recover quickly and completely.