A total of 56 confirmed cases have been linked to an E.Coli O157 outbreak in East Lothian. The outbreak resulted in the closure of five nurseries, all of which have since reopened following inspections from East Lothian Council environmental health team, the Care Inspectorate and NHS Lothian Public Health team.

NHS Lothian formed an Incident Management Team (IMT) to investigate the cluster of cases. The IMT was made up a number of organisations including NHS Lothian Health Protection Team, Public Health Scotland, East Lothian Environmental Health Department, East Lothian Education Department, and the Care Inspectorate.

The role of the IMT was to identify cases, prevent further spread of the infection and put in place robust control measures to safeguard public health.

Work is still continuing behind the scenes by the health care scientists in epidemiology and microbiology to try and identify the source of the infection.

The outbreak caused the closure of three nurseries in Haddington and two nurseries in Musselburgh. 

Church Street Pear Tree Nursery in Haddington was originally closed on August 2 after a number of children fell ill and went on to test positive for E-Coli O157.

The sister nursery Meadowpark Pear Tree Nursery was closed on August 12 as a precaution when sickness symptoms were reported before E.coli O157 went on to be confirmed on August 18. Musselburgh Private Nursery on Bridge Street was then shut on August 19.

West Road Pear Tree Nursery in Haddington and Musselburgh Private Nursery, Stoneybank, were both closed as a precaution following sickness symptoms. The infection was not confirmed at West Road Pear Tree Nursery.

All staff and pupils of all the nurseries apart from West Road Pear Tree were formally excluded under the Public Health Act. 

Dr Josie Murray, Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Chair of the multi-agency Incident Management Team (IMT), said: “We are really encouraged to see all of the nurseries open their doors once again and welcome back their staff and pupils.

“We know it has been a really difficult time for everyone involved, especially in accepting some of the control measures which were vital in containing the infection and stopping its spread within the community.

 “On behalf of the IMT, I would like to thank everyone for working with us throughout this rapidly evolving and complex outbreak.”

Letters providing the most up to date information have been issued to families directly in some circumstances and via the nurseries distribution systems.

The complex outbreak has evolved rapidly and a set of FAQs were developed to help answer questions from concerned families and carers and can be found on NHS Lothian’s website.

If families have incurred financial losses due to the public health control measures for the E-Coli outbreak, they are entitled to submit a claim for compensation and details are contained in the exclusion letters.