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E. Coli Outbreak Hits Bronx Day-care Tots

The New York Post reported Friday that a potentially deadly strain of E. coli bacteria hospitalized three toddlers at a Bronx day-care center and may have sickened 18 others, authorities are reporting, at the For Kids Only day-care center in Morris Park.
According to the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, a fourth child who’s from the neighborhood but didn’t attend the center was also hospitalized in the outbreak,. One of the children was still in the hospital yesterday in stable condition.
From the article:

“Fortunately, all of the children are doing well at this point,” said city Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden.
The infected children range in age from 7 months to 3 years old.
E. coli is normally found in animal and human intestines and feces, and most strains are harmless.
But the strain that struck the day-care center — known scientifically as E. coli 0157:H7 — can cause bloody diarrhea and sometimes causes kidney damage, which can bring on more severe illnesses.
City health officials said they weren’t sure how the children got infected. However, the center told parents the children may have picked up the illness during a visit to the Bronx Zoo, one parent said.
A health inspection Monday, after the outbreak was discovered, found several violations, including a failure to clean toys with bleach water, a failure to remove children’s shoes at nap time, and a lack of paper towels, city records show.
Children in day-care centers are particularly at risk for getting and spreading the disease if they have poor hand-washing habits, researchers say.
The center passed its annual health inspections in April 2003 and last March.
For Kids Only, which serves about 80 children, is owned by Bronx residents Dennis Garafalo and Carol Rhoades, who could not be reached yesterday.
Garafalo cut short a vacation to fly back to New York to deal with the situation, Rhoades’ daughter said.
For Kids Only remained shuttered yesterday. An area businesswoman said that a few days ago, she saw workers give the premises a top-to-bottom scrubbing.
Neighbors said the center has been in business for 14 years. “They are very clean, very health conscious,” said Rosemarie Vicale, who worked at For Kids Only for six years and who sent her own child there.
One parent who asked not to be identified said she had a lot of confidence in the center. “The people are very conscientious,” she said. But another woman who was considering enrolling her 21/2-year-old daughter in the center said she’d take her elsewhere. “With your kid, you can’t take any chances,” said Eva Hernandez, 24.

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