A representative for the Tennessee Department of Health has reported that an outbreak of E. coli at a local day care was probably started with one infected child who then transmitted the bacteria to other children.

The infected child probably attended the day care facility for three to four days while he was experiencing symptoms of E. coli infection. Nine children have become ill as a result, with two children developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal disease that causes kidneys to shut down.

"Any day care operator should have measures in place to prevent the spread of diarrheal illness at their facility, even if it means sending a kid home until they’re feeling better and able to pass solid stool," said William Marler, an attorney who has represented hundreds of victims of E. coli outbreaks. "I understand that having an outbreak is a day care operator’s worst nightmare, but this nightmare was largely preventable."

E. coli O157:H7 causes a diarrheal illness that results in painful abdominal cramping, nausea, and bloody diarrhea. Five to ten percent of children who become ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication that can cause kidney failure as well as damage to the pancreas, liver, brain, and heart. Children with HUS can develop medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and often require medical monitoring and treatment throughout the rest of their lives.