Macon County E. coli outbreak sends two children to hospital with kidney failure


LAFAYETTE, TN – An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak has been traced to a Macon County, Tennessee, day care center. The Tennessee Department of Health reported that nine children became ill with E. coli infections after being exposed to an ill child at Paulette’s Group Day Care Home. Two of the children were admitted to Children’s Hospital after the E. coli bacteria caused their kidneys to shut down.

E. coli O157:H7 causes a diarrheal illness that results in painful abdominal cramping, nausea, and bloody diarrhea. Five to ten percent of children who become ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication that can cause kidney failure as well as damage to the pancreas, liver, brain, and heart (see www.about-hus.com). Children with HUS can develop medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and often require medical monitoring and treatment throughout the rest of their lives.

A representative for the Tennessee Department of Health reported that the index case, or child who became ill and was the likely source of infection among the other nine children at the day care, attended the day care facility for three to four days while he was experiencing symptoms of E. coli infection.

“Any day care operator should have measures in place to prevent the spread of diarrheal illness at their facility, even if it means sending a kid home until they’re feeling better and able to pass solid stool,” said William Marler, an attorney who has represented hundreds of victims of E. coli outbreaks. “I understand that having an outbreak is a day care operator’s worst nightmare, but this nightmare was largely preventable.”

Marler and the attorneys at Marler Clark have represented dozens of children who have become sick with E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogenic bacteria while attending day care. The firm recently settled the case of a Missouri child who suffered an E. coli infection and HUS after being exposed to the E. coli bacterium at a day care center in Joplin, Missouri.