The Premier of Alberta, Canada, visibly choked back tears during a press conference Friday due to a bacterial disease outbreak that ripped through daycares and families in the city of Calgary.
“It’s unimaginable pain, and I’m heartbroken by what these families are going through,” Premier Danielle Smith said, her voice trailing off as she heaved and fought back tears, according to the video of the press conference.
A shared kitchen, believed to be the cause of the outbreak, “is closed indefinitely,” Smith said, adding that medical professionals were “doing everything they can” and “each sick child is getting the best possible care,” she noted.
The Alberta authorities declared the outbreak, caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E. coli), September 4, according to a government statement. There were 264 lab-confirmed cases, 25 inpatients, 22 of whom had hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) caused by the E. coli germ, and 11 daycares were closed, as of September 12. Six patients were receiving peritoneal dialysis. The lab-confirmed cases spiked to 337 as of September 15, but patients with HUS had climbed down to 10 while six patients were on peritoneal dialysis, a separate statement noted. The closure orders for the 11 daycares have been reversed “following thorough and highly detailed reinspections by public health officers,” per the statement. (RELATED: 1-Year-Old Boy Dies At Daycare, 3 Others Hospitalized. Circumstances Remain Mysterious)
The shared kitchen, identified as KidsU Centennial – Fueling Minds Inc., was found to be cockroach-infested, an environmental health inspection report of the kitchen noted. Unsafe food handling, improper storage of utensils and a “sewer gas smell” were also reportedly observed. There were previous instances of health violations and corrections, the report showed.
Fueling Brains Academy, which runs some of the initially closed daycares, and Fueling Minds, which runs the shared kitchen, share common ownership but are separate entities, CBC News reported. Fueling Brains was taking the situation seriously and would “work each and every day to re-establish trust with the families that we serve,” Faisal Alimohd, a co-founder, said in a statement Friday.
Smith promised her government would pay each affected family CAD 2000 (about US$1480) per child and urged the affected daycares to take responsibility and reimburse the affected families.