AN 18-MONTH-OLD girl is seriously ill in hospital following an outbreak of E. coli in East Lothian.

The youngster, from Tranent, was taken to hospital on August 1 and is continuing to be monitored by doctors at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh.

Her mum, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Courier it had been a difficult time for the family, including the youngster’s twin sister, who was also ill but has since recovered.

She said: “It has been very difficult, very stressful, because the doctors are reacting to symptoms coming through.

“I have got a child at home who is unable to come into the hospital.

“It has been very difficult and very stressful and worrying about how [the sick child] is and what it is going to be like.

“Is there going to be any long-term issue that she is going to have?

“It has been very stressful for us.”

'Assumed it was a tummy bug'

Strains of E. coli can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.

A small number of people with E. coli O157 infection go on to develop a serious condition called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS).

This can sometimes lead to kidney failure and death, although this is rare.

The risk of HUS is highest in children aged under five years.

Both of the twins – who attend Pear Tree Nursery Church Street in Haddington – had been ill at the end of last month, with one recovering within three or four days.

However, her sister got “significantly worse” and was taken to the Capital hospital.

The mum said: “I was concerned there was no improvement. That was when we received a message from the nursery to say there was an E. coli outbreak.

“I just assumed it was a tummy bug.

“She has been in hospital since August 1.

'Still concerned'

“She is still pretty unwell and there is no sign this week she is getting home. The doctors are still concerned about her health, specifically that E. coli impacts people differently – either through the blood, through the kidneys or [it can result in] brain damage.

“Fortunately, there is not brain damage and the kidneys seem to be OK but the blood is of concern.

“She is anaemic and remains under observation quite regularly.”

An investigation has been launched to try to identify the source of the outbreak.

The mum felt it was inappropriate to apportion blame until that was complete.

She added: “It’s more of a concern how it has come about and to make sure it never happens again.”

Confirmed cases

Dr Richard Othieno, consultant in public health medicine at NHS Lothian, has confirmed that health officials are aware of “a small number” of confirmed cases.

He said: “We’re aware of a small number of confirmed cases of E. coli O157 in children from East Lothian.

“E. coli O157 is a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhoea, bloody diarrhoea, tummy cramps and occasionally fever.

“NHS Lothian, along with partner agencies, is investigating the source and has put in place control measures.

READ MOREE. coli outbreak confirmed in East Lothian

“There is no specific treatment for E. coli O157 infection and most people who are infected will get better without medical treatment.

“However, those who have symptoms or are concerned are advised to contact their GP or NHS 24 on telephone number 111.”

The Courier has contacted Pear Tree Nursery Church Street – which was named Nursery of the Year Scotland at the NDNA Awards earlier this summer – for comment.