TWO children are in hospital following an E.coli outbreak at a nursery school.

Specialists from Public Health England and environmental health officers are investigating the cases of E.coli O157, which are linked to Little Brook Childrens Nursery, in Great Harwood.


Testing is being carried out on staff and children who may have come into contact with the bacteria, and children have been asked to remain at home until they have tested negative.

A spokeswoman for Public Health England said that although staff were at the nursery yesterday, it will effectively be closed to children until those given the all clear begin to return.

E. coli O157 is a bacterium that can cause infection of the bowel. It is usually spread by contact with animals or infected meat products, but it also spreads from person-to-person.

Those who are suffering from an E.coli infection will experience symptoms ranging from mild diarrhoea to more serious illness with bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, a raised temperature and shivering attacks.

Parents with children at the Blackburn Road nursery said staff, which was rated Good by Ofsted in August, had been quick to respond to the outbreak.

Grainne Nixon, nurse consultant in Health Protection from the Cumbria and Lancashire PHE Centre said: “Investigations are still on going and all public health measures are being put in place to help prevent further infection.

“A group of other children and staff at the nursery will be screened for the infection as a precautionary measure.

“We are collecting faecal samples for testing from children and staff to be absolutely sure that no-one is carrying an infection that could spread from person-to-person.

“We are also asking parents of children who are being screened to keep their children at home until they have produced a clear specimen after which they can return to nursery.”

Coun Pam Barton, Hyndburn Council’s portfolio holder for Health and Well Being said: “The council’s environmental health officers are assisting Public Health England in investigating E.Coli in Hyndburn and any additional resources that may be required from the council by Public Health England will be made available.”

Lancashire Telegraph’s health expert, Dr Tom Smith, warned that E.coli infections can be very serious, particularly for young children.

He said: “Sadly it’s quite serious, for children particularly.

“It can give rise to kidney problems and even, in severe cases, multiple organ failure.

“Hopefully these two children will be all right, but mortality is associated with E.coli.

“Some children die from it, it can be really serious.

“You’ve got to find the source of the contamination, it comes mostly from contaminated food or lack of hygiene after toiletting.

“The nursery must make sure the children all wash their hands after they’ve been to the toilet, and that food is properly cooked and stored, and that separate cutlery is used for raw stuff and cooked stuff - it usually comes from contaminated beef or prepared meat.

“You can always trace E.coli back to some mistake in hygiene - from a butcher, or from people in kitchens not following the rules.”

The number of cases of E.coli reported by East Lancashire NHS Hospitals Trust have remained fairly constant over the past year.

In August 2013 there were 23 cases, and in August 2014 there were 25.

Nursery staff and East Lancashire NHS Hospital Trust declined to comment on the outbreak.

When Ofsted inspectors visited in August they praised the nursery and said: “Managers, leaders and staff demonstrate a good understanding of their responsibility for safeguarding and protecting children from harm.

“As a result, children's needs are well catered for and they are kept safe at all times.“