Outbreaks

2 preschoolers hospitalized, 70 others possibly exposed after E. coli outbreak at Washington school

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli bacteria, grown in culture and adhered to a cover slip.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli bacteria, grown in culture and adhered to a cover slip.  (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID))

A Washington private school for young children has shut its doors as health officials investigate an E. coli outbreak that has left two preschoolers hospitalized and possibly exposed an additional 10 staff members and 60 children.

Q 13 Fox reported that the Snohomish Health District has closed the Monroe Montessori School, in Monroe, to prevent further spread of the bacteria. People who are elderly, immunosuppressed, or young are more at risk for suffering complications from infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The school has preschool, kindergarten and elementary classes, according to its website.

“They’re babies. That’s scary,” Wendy Weilbacher who lives in Monroe, told Q 13 Fox.

The news station reported that the two hospitalized children are girls and that one is suffering from kidney complications.

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Heather Thomas, spokeswoman for the Snohomish Health District, said it’s unclear whether the bacteria is spreading at the school, and that their investigation aims to find out.

“They are going through and sanitizing the facility and they will be testing all of the children who have been in that facility since July 11, as well as staff,” Thomas told the news station.

Symptoms of E. coli include stomach cramping, nausea, diarrhea and bloody stool.