2017-07-17T14:32:47+00:00Pritzker Hageman, P.A.
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Students at Clover Flat Elementary in Boulevard, California, may have contracted E. coli O157 illnesses from contaminated water at the school. At least one potential case has been reported, and there may be others. Parents should know that they can sue a school district for E. coli poisoning. This is often the only way to get all relevant information from the school and health departments, and to get compensation for a child who has contracted the illness and is hospitalized.

On the last day of the school year, June 16, 2017, a water sample tested positive for E. coli bacteria. It is unknown how long the water was contaminated before the children left for the summer break. On June 22, the Department of Public Health inspected the water system at the school. The results of some of the testing that should have been done at that time have not been made public to date. What should have happened is a two-step process:

  1. The water is tested for E. coli. This was done and the results were positive.
  2. Cells of E. coli bacteria found in the water are sent to a special lab for genetic testing, generally using a process called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), which produces a DNA “fingerprint” of the cells. If this fingerprint matches the fingerprint of any E. coli found in a sick child, that is “smoking gun” evidence that the water made the child sick. To date, the Department of Public Health has not announced any PFGE results, which is expected because it can take weeks to get the results.
E coli Bacteria
E. coli O157 bacteria under a magnification of 6836x. These are tiny bugs, and they can cause kidney failure and be fatal. This is why water systems should be tested regularly, which the school has said it does every month.

Mountain Empire Unified School District is installing a new pressure tank and is taking other measures to clean the water system and prevent outbreaks of illnesses. One possible preventative measure is water filters on fountains used by the students, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health told NBC News 7 (2).

We will be watching to see if this situation is resolved. The concern is that the school is getting its drinking water from big tanks which may not have been sealed correctly, according to news reports. We have handled cases in past outbreaks where bird feces contaminated an entire tank of water.

Pritzker Hageman, P.A. is a food safety law firm. Our lawyers represent E. coli victims in several states. The firm can be contacted at 1-888-377-8900 (toll-free) or by using our free consultation form.

Sources: 1) http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/E-coli-Discovered-In-Clover-Flat-Elementary-School-Water–430285023.html and 2) http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/health/School-District-Officials-Propose-Solution-to-E-Coli-Tainted-Water-at-Clover-Flat-430893733.html