A timeline of the E. coli outbreak linked to Calgary daycares and a central kitchen

CALGARY — More than 250 people, mostly children, have been infected in an E. coli outbreak linked to 11 daycares in Calgary. Twenty-five are in hospital. Six of those patients are on dialysis, which is a treatment for kidney failure. Here's a timeline of key developments in the outbreak:

Aug. 31 to Sept. 3: Patients start showing up with gastrointestinal illnesses at various hospitals across Calgary, including Alberta Children's Hospital. Symptoms of E. coli typically appear three to four days after exposure, but can appear as early as one day after exposure to more than a week later.

Some parents believe their children were infected on or around Aug. 29. Meatloaf, fresh vegetables and fruit are listed on the online menu for that day.

Sept. 3: Fueling Brains says on its website that it has been notified by Alberta Health Services of a potential E. coli outbreak and is working with health officials to investigate the source. It says it has sent a note to families and closed its daycares.

Some parents tell local media they received a notice, but others say they learned about the potential outbreak when they took their children to hospital.

Sept. 4: Alberta Health Services declares an E. coli outbreak for six Fueling Brains locations and five additional sites that share a central kitchen. The health authority says there are 17 lab-confirmed cases linked to the outbreak. Twelve patients are in hospital and up to 50 children have visited hospitals.

Sept. 5: An environmental health inspection is completed at the central kitchen, KidsU Centennial-Fueling Minds Inc., which services the daycares. The inspection report, released a week later, shows critical violations.

Sept. 6: Alberta Health Services says some of the 22 patients in hospital have severe symptoms. It says the number of lab-confirmed cases has grown to 96.

Sept. 7: The number of cases rises to 128. Twenty-five patients are in hospital. Nine are confirmed as having hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition that affects the kidneys and causes blood clots.

Sept. 8: A lawyer in Calgary files a proposed class-action lawsuit against the daycares. Maia Tomljanovic says she has spoken with dozens of parents whose children have been infected, and she's aware there are many others. There are 142 cases, with 11 patients seriously ill.

Dr. Francesco Rizzuti, medical officer of health in Calgary, says four of the 11 daycares had no reported E. coli cases and would be allowed to reopen on Sept. 11 if that continued. He says the other facilities could reopen as early as Sept. 12, but children and staff would be required to show proof of a negative test before they could return. Deep cleaning would also be required.

Sept. 10: Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she has asked her health minister and children and family services minister to do a "full assessment" of the outbreak. Alberta Health Services says there are 190 cases. Twenty-seven people are in hospital, with 20 having severe illness.

The health authority says it's "highly likely" the outbreak is linked to food from the central kitchen.

Sept. 11: A notice on the Fueling Brains website says mandatory testing is required for students and staff who attended five of the daycares — Braeside, Centennial, McKnight, New Brighton and West 85th — between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31.

The number of cases surpasses 200.

Sept. 12: The provincial government, including Alberta's chief medical officer of health, holds its first news conference on the outbreak. Alberta Health Services releases the Sept. 5 inspection report that shows the kitchen lacked proper sanitization methods, had a pest infestation and food was transported without temperature control.

There are 264 cases and 15 patients are in hospital. Of those, 22 have hemolytic uremic syndrome. Six patients are on dialysis at Alberta Children's Hospital.

Seven daycare facilities are allowed to reopen, while five others and the central kitchen remain under a closure order.

At least one parent and the Opposition NDP call for a public inquiry into the outbreak. The investigation continues into the source of the outbreak.

Sept. 13: All closure orders for the daycares are rescinded by Alberta Health Services. It notes any decisions on reopening after the closure orders are lifted are to be made by the operator. The central kitchen remains closed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2023.

The Canadian Press