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Seattle, WA—a 4-year-old child died at a Washington State day care after he was exposed to a deadly strain of E. coli and three other children are currently hospitalized. According to the county health officials in Clark County, they did not shut down the day care center for fear that parents would take their children to other nearby day care centers and infect more children.

The first case was reported on March 19, but the Clark County health officer, Dr. Alan Melnick, didn’t shut down the Fletch Family Daycare until April 2. He argues that he made his decision after test results indicated that seven other children and staff members were contaminated with the bacteria, but showed no symptoms. After the initial case was reported, the same doctor who tested the first child for E. coli also discovered a second case on March 26. Then, on March 29, a third parent contacted health officials to report her child’s symptoms of E. coli contamination. Finally, the young boy who recently died was the fourth case that was reported.

The specific strain of E. coli, known as O157:H7, is best known for its role in large outbreaks from contaminated ground beef or produce. The Fletch Family day care center has operated since 1990 with no complaints filed against it.

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