Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mark Joffe provided another update on the E. coli outbreak this afternoon (Sept. 19).

The exact source of the outbreak hasn't yet been determined, though Joffe says there is encouraging news when it comes to case numbers.

"There has been a total of 348 lab-confirmed cases connected with this outbreak. This is unchanged since yesterday. There has been a total of 27 secondary cases, encouraging news as there have been no additional secondary cases confirmed in the last 48 hours. It should be noted that some secondary transmission is common, and in fact, it's expected as part of a large outbreak such as this. Our aim, though, is to limit that transmission as much as possible. There are currently eight children receiving care in the hospital, one less than yesterday. All of these children have been confirmed as having Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, including two that remain on dialysis, one less than yesterday."

There are now 12 daycares that have had their closure orders rescinded.

Six are still under active closure orders:

  • Active Start Country Hills – Dolphin and Starfish preschool classes
  • CanCare Childcare - Scenic Acres location­ – Busy Bees, Bumble Bees and Butterflies classrooms
  • CEFA Early Learning Calgary South ­– JK 3-1 classroom
  • Renert Junior Kindergarten – all four Junior K classrooms
  • 1st Class Childcare Shawnessy ­– “Main daycare” area is being closed
  • Calgary JCC Child Care ­– a closure order was issued for infant and toddler rooms on Sept. 15

A total of 707 children have been cleared to return to daycare.

Dr. Joffe elaborated on some of the methodology being used in the investigation into the outbreak's source.

"Our public health team is reviewing the food histories for more than 1,050 children and 250 daycare staff. This includes both those who became ill as well as those who did not, all of whom were at the 11 affected daycare sites between August 15th and 31st. By comparing the complete food history from both groups and then combining that with what is known about how food items were prepared and distributed, the team can potentially identify commonalities and ultimately identify the likely source of this outbreak. We anticipate having an update on this work very soon."

Responding to a question from the media, Dr. Joffe confirmed it's possible the exact source of the outbreak may never be determined.

More information on the outbreak can be found on AHS' E. coli outbreak page.