MONROE — A preschool that closed last week after two young girls were hospitalized with an E. coli infection reopened Monday.
Snohomish Health District staff were at the school checking with parents and students to see if they had any E. coli symptoms, said Heather Thomas, a spokeswoman for the public health agency.
Symptoms of E. coli contamination include stomach cramps, diarrhea which is often bloody, and vomiting.
On Friday, one student at the school had some symptoms, but an initial test result came back negative for the infection, Thomas said. A follow-up test is being conducted.
The Monroe Montessori School at 733 Village Way was temporarily closed by the health district Wednesday after two young students were diagnosed with E. coli infections.
The two girls, both under 5, remain hospitalized. One of the girls has a potentially life-threatening complication that can cause the kidneys to stop working.
No condition updates have been available on the girls, Thomas said.
Health district officials say they’re not sure how the girls became infected, but they likely were exposed to livestock near their home.
Though the school itself is not believed to be the source of the infection, about 60 children and staff there potentially could have been exposed, Thomas said.
Children and staff are being tested for a form of the disease called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. Testing kits have been distributed, Thomas said. The first batch of test results are expected later this week.
Health district staff remained at the school over the weekend as rooms and play areas were sanitized, Thomas said.
On Monday, public health employees were on hand to guide students through the steps of proper hand washing, Thomas said. They reminded students that they needed to wash their hands after being on the playground, before and after lunch, and after using the restroom.
E. coli bacteria live in the intestines of humans and animals. Symptoms begin up to eight days after exposure. Sometimes people become infected by eating contaminated food. People also have become ill after coming into direct contact with livestock or visiting petting zoos. Infected people, especially young children, may spread the illness to others by failing to wash their hands well after using a restroom.
The best way to stop the spread of the disease is frequent hand washing.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.