A fourth nursery has been shut as new cases of E.coli have emerged amid a continuing outbreak.
NHS Lothian, along with local and national partner agencies, has confirmed that a “small cluster of cases” of the infection have been identified at Meadowpark Pear Tree Nursery, after it closed as a “precautionary measure” on Friday, August 12.
It comes after medics confirmed they were investigating 28 cases of the infection linked to Church Road Pear Tree Nursery in Haddington.
A fourth nursery, Musselburgh Private Nursery, closed on Friday after a number of cases of gastrointestinal illness arose.
The total number of confirmed cases now sits in excess of 30.
West Road Pear Tree Nursery remains closed as a “precaution” after reports of a sickness bug arose to allow further sampling and testing to be carried out, with results are expected soon.
So far, medics have been unable to identify a specific source, but advanced microbiological testing is ongoing to determine the strain of the infection and any links.
Dr Richard Othieno, chair of the incident management team and public health consultant, NHS Lothian, said: “This is a very complex situation and we need to take a very cautious approach.
“We have now identified a small number of new cases of E-coli in Meadowpark Pear Tree Nursery after extensive sampling and testing.
“West Road Pear Street Nursery remains closed and we have asked for a room within Musselburgh Bridge Street to close. We need families to work with us to ensure that they do not mix with other children and adults if they are asked not to do so by our Health Protection Team.
“I know this is really difficult, especially for families who are eager to return to work and school, but it is essential.
“We would urge anyone who has not yet handed in a sample to do so as soon as possible to help identify what has caused their symptoms and hopefully rule out any links with E-coli.
“We have provided guidelines for parents and carers and explained that it is vital for siblings or those children leaving nursery, taking up a new nursery place and starting school for the first time to remain at home until their exclusion period is complete if they have been in contact with someone with E-coli or any other vomiting bug.
“NHS Lothian’s Health Protection Team is also working with East Lothian Council’s Education service to provide headteachers with those same details to help prevent the spread of infection.
“This outbreak reinforces the importance of washing hands regularly, particularly before eating or preparing food, and after going to the toilet.”
E. coli is a bacterial infection that causes illness in people. The symptoms range 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 get better without medical treatment. However, those who have symptoms, or are concerned, are advised to contact their GP or NHS 24 on telephone number 111.