East Lothian E-coli outbreak: 2 Pear Tree nurseries in Haddington reopen after E-coli outbreak

Two nurseries at the centre of an E-coli outbreak in East Lothian, which saw 50 confirmed cases of the bug, have re-opened their doors to staff and pupils.

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Church Street Pear Tree Nursery in Haddington became the first to re-open on Monday and its sister nursery Meadowpark Pear Tree reopened on Wednesday.

NHS Lothian said the remaining three nurseries closed as a result of the outbreak – West Road Pear Tree Nursery; Musselburgh Private Nursery, Bridge Street; and Musselburgh Private Nursery, Stoneybank Terrace – would reopen as soon as it was safe to do so.

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The Church Street nursery was originally closed on August 2 after a number of children fell ill and went on to test positive for E-coli. NHS Lothian joined forces with local and national partner agencies to form a multi-agency Incident Management Team (IMT) to investigate the cluster of cases.

The sister Meadowpark nursery was then closed on August 12 when sickness symptoms were reported before E-coli went on to be confirmed on August 18. And the Bridge Street nursery had confirmed cases of E-coli on August 19.

The West Road and Stoneybank nurseries were both closed as a precaution following sickness symptoms.

Dr Graham Mackenzie, consultant in public health medicine and chair of the Incident Management Team, said the reopening of the nurseries proved that robust control measures were successful.

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The Church Street Pear Tree nursery in Haddington was the first to close in the outbreak and it has now reopened.

He said: “It is really encouraging to see these nurseries opening back up and children being able to return to school and nursery and we would like to thank the families who have worked with us.

“Over the last few weeks, hundreds of exclusion orders have been put in place to safeguard public health and safeguard communities.

“This has been challenging for everyone involved. We all know how difficult the Covid-19 lockdown and the pandemic has been on family life and that as a result these E. coli exclusions have been difficult for families to accept.

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“However, the Health Protection Team has worked tirelessly to contain the outbreak and prevent wider spread and the IMT would like to thank them for all of their hard work and professionalism.

“Scores of exclusion orders have been lifted over recent days which means that some families can get back to normal. There are also enough staff and pupils who have been through the clearance process and provided two negative stool samples 24 hour apart, to make it feasible for Church Street and Meadowpark nurseries to re-open.

“I would remind families that they must wait for the Health Protection Team to give them clearance for their child to attend nursery to ensure there is no possibility of continuing transmission.”

E-coli is a bacterial infection with symptoms ranging from mild loose stools to severe bloody diarrhoea. The most serious complications can lead to blood poisoning and kidney failure. There is no specific treatment for the infection and most people who are infected will get better without medical treatment. However, those who have symptoms, or are concerned, are advised to contact their GP or NHS 24 by dialling 111.

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A general information line on 0800 22 44 88 has been created through NHS24 to help families answer many of the questions they may be facing.

Families and nursery staff are also being reminded that they may be eligible for compensation for loss of earnings resulting from an exclusion.

An adult who has been excluded under the Public Health Act may be eligible as well as parents and carers who need to care for someone who has been excluded. This information is provided in the exclusion letter sent by the Health Protection Team.

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